Baker man, baker man

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We cook in our house, baking…not so much.  So this year when we unwrapped a bread machine from my parents, we were delighted.  You see, we have been considering this purchase for a little while, every time we buy a five dollar loaf of bread, in fact. We took to the grocery and picked up all the necessary components.  Yeast, salt, flour, dry milk, etc., only to be left with four very unsatisfactory, dense and bland loaves of bread.  (sigh)
Bad bread is like bad pizza, it’s too easy right?  There should be little room for error–it’s four ingredients for goodness sake!
Our sad loaves inspired us.  Within three days we had bookmarked bread recipes on the internet, scoured the library for popular, and easy, recipe books for bread until we finally managed to turn out a edible loaf, one for the Gods, or at least three hungry little mouths 🙂  Turns out, bread making is quite easy when you learn to be flexible and patient, allowing for the good and the bad.  New buzz words in our kitchen are “proof”, “pre-ferment”, and “punching down”. **The latter refers to what you do to the dough once it’s rested for a bit, it can also refer to what you do to a random pillow pet that is lying around when you discover your dough hasn’t risen.  Either form is therapeutic.
Alas, we have decent bread that we are even brave enough to share with our neighbors.  The irony, of course, is that we have ditched the bread machine and mix, “proof”, and bake by hand now.  As seasoned as we have managed to become in the last month, we have come to the conclusion that the machine limits our bread baking capabilities.  Spoken like a true amateur.

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