Meet My New Friend

Hello ladies and gents! Hope you have all had a healthy and happy hump day! Ahh, alliteration, I love you so!

So, I’d like to introduce you to my new friend! Everybody, meet Mr. Yeast! Mr. Yeast…everybody!

I cannot even begin to tell you how long I have been afraid of this mysterious little jar of bacteria. Just the word “yeast” would make me shudder. Whenever I saw a recipe that listed yeast as an ingredient, I would immediately turn the page, denying myself whatever foodie goodness lay within because I felt that baking with yeast was just not something a self-taught home cook like me could handle. There is much to be blamed for my ever-present perfectionism.

Then things started to change. Over the last couple of weeks, Allie, over at Live Laugh Eat, has been documenting a food journey of sorts as she learns all there is to know about baking bread. Some lessons she has learned through research…others merely through trial and error, but after a post the other day speaking about all things yeast, I realized that this tiny little jar was nothing to be afraid of! His secrets were revealed and I was on a mission…for homemade bread!

I wanted to start off as easy as possible. The least amount of steps with the least amount of ingredients. I figured it would give me a lesser chance of messing something up! šŸ˜‰ How do you like my sense of optimism?

A quick Google search led my to the King Arthur Flour website where I found a classic (yet simple) recipe.

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread: (makes 1 loaf)
Taken from King Arthur Flour website

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoonsĀ instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
  • 1/4 cupĀ nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

*Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

The steps were are pretty straight forward. My reactions are in red. Let it be known that I am NOT a patient person:

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until dough starts to pull away from the edges.
“Oh wow, this is easy peasy!”
2. Knead dough on greased surface with greased hands for 6-8 minutes.
“Ooookay, don’t think I’ve worked with greasy dough before. Usually the recipe says a floured surface”…Heather, stop! You are not making cookies!
3. Place in bowl covered with a towel and allow to rise 1-2 hours
“Okie dokie, I can do that!

…1 hour later, “Hmm, maybe I should give it a little longer, doesn’t look like it’s done much”…2 hours later, “Oh yay! That looks right!”

4. Remove from bowl, shape into 8 inch log, place in loaf pan covered lightly with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise a second time (1-2 hours)

“Man, this is a whole lot of waiting! I want some bread now!”…1 hour later, “Nope! STILL not ready”…2 hours later, “FINALLY!”

5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes, tenting after 20 to prevent over browning of crust.

The last step is where my face was pretty much plastered to the oven window wiping the drool from my lips and twiddling my thumbs.

But then, 35 minutes later…it was finished!

It came out perfect! My little sister is staying over tonight and arrived just as I was slicing it up. As she took the first bite, I stood on my tip-toes in anticipation…

Her words, not mine: “Oh my gosh, this is like the BEST bread I’ve EVER tasted! It’s so sweet and…umph…mmm!…so good!”

*Insert happy dance!*

Dinner this evening HAD to be something great to compete with this fantastic loaf of wheaty goodness. I’ve been eyeing the bookmark for Erika’s White Chicken Chili for a week now. I knew tonight would be the perfect night to give it a whirl.

I halved her recipe since it was only for me and my sis and only added in one thing:

1/2 cup shredded zucchini to the onions while sauteing

I love sneaking in veggies whenever I can…you couldn’t even taste or see them!

Oh my goodness Erika! This soup was fantastic! I topped mine with lime, cilantro, and diced avocado. I loved the flavor of the cilantro mixed with the cumin…smoky with a hint of spice. The somewhat sweet-tasting bread was a perfect match to this flavorful soup. I did a good job of “mopping up” my bowl with it at the end of this meal!

What are your thoughts on yeast? Have you ever made homemade bread?

What do you think of the lightbox pics?
I think I’m finally getting the hang of it after a few days of playing around with light and camera angles!

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