Travel changes me. The more I experience, the more I seem to understand the human condition. I have a student intern coming in for the spring semester and one of the things that set him apart from others, was he has been around the world, lived in a variety of very diverse places, his insight into life is shaped by the experience. His wisdom is beyond his years.
I am always looking for seeds of wisdom, insight into understanding the adventure.
A second part to today's entry. I have made bread a couple of times recently. I had gotten into the habit of buying from a local baker at the Saturday farmers market. The last couple of Saturdays it has been cold, like 10 degrees colder than freezing (23F about -6C) and I didn't go to the market. As it has been for the past 250 years, the market is outside.
Bread is not hard to make. It is nothing to be afraid of. When I first made it I kneaded it by hand, I was younger and fitter then. I use a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer with a dough hook.
Here is how.
About 3/4 of a cup of warm water, 110 F, or maybe a degree or so less. Mix into that a tablespoon of sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of rapid rise dry active yeast. I buy yeast in 1 pound bags, and store it in the freezer in a tightly lidded mason jar. You can order it on Amazon, I have 2 or 3 pounds in the freezer (if you are close by, I have more than I will use, I'd be glad to give away a couple of pounds, long story my order ended up being duplicated the last time around.)
Put 3 cups of bread flour into the mixing bowl. I use King Arthur or Bobs Red Mill. They are a little better quality. Bread flour has a higher protein or glutton content. Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Melt 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter (I use Kerrygold salted.) Mix the salt and butter in with the flour with a spoon.
By now the yeast mixture should be bubbly and frothy. If not the either the water was too hot (I use always temp it) or the yeast is dead. If the yeast is dead, you need fresh. It stores well in the freezer, but not so well at room temp.
Pour the yeast mix into the flour mix, and stir until it starts to come together as a stiff clumpy mix. Put the bowl on the mixer, with the dough hook, lock the head down or the bowl up (depending on the model) and start on slightly above slow speed. In a minute or so, the dough should start to form a ball around the hook. If it does not, add a little more warm water, a tablespoon or two will usually do the trick. Start a timer for five minutes to time the kneading.
Grate, 4 or 5 ounces of cheese. Sharp cheddar, odds and ends of what you have on hand. About half way through the kneading stop the mixer and add the cheese, and resume kneading. The cheese will all but disappear into the bread dough.
When the five minutes are up, turn off the mixer, knead by hand for a few moments to form an elastic ball. Drizzle the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil, turn the dough in the oil, cover with a towel and let set to rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes. (I put mine six inches under a halogen under counter light.)
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick baking spray (I use Pam.)
When about doubled (or more) in bulk, punch down and knead into a ball and form a loaf shape. The dough will change in texture very quickly. Place in the loaf pan, cover with the towel, return to a warm place and let rise for about an hour.
About 20 minutes before the second rise is finished preheat the oven to about 375 degrees.
Bake 60 minutes at about 375 degrees. The loaf should turn out of pan easily, thump the bottom, it should sound hollow when done. Baking time will vary from oven to oven, and by altitude, and by weather.
Allow to cool for 2-hours or more on a cooling rack before slicing. A lot of great bread is ruined by trying to slice to soon.