Happy Monday, friends!
I hope you had a restful weekend! I had an unexpected 3-day weekend thanks to the continuous cold + icy weather around these parts. It was so unexpected that instead of being my usual productive self, I spent most of the weekend reading (+ eating). Not that I’m complaining! Sunday at least was gorgeous, enough so that we opened our doors to let in some fresh air and the kitty spent most of the afternoon sitting in the sun outside. So needed after experiencing my first negative temperatures this week.
The one thing I did manage to do was put my bread machine to good use. I’ve been determined to figure out how to use it as a replacement for sandwich and other store bought dinner breads, but I wasn’t having any luck with the recipes that came with the machine.
A friend recommended checking out Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Machine Bread Lover’s Cookbook (thanks Stephanie!), and so Jeff got it for me as a Christmas gift. I read the introduction over break, trying to get a handle on all of the bread machine basics, necessary adjustments, and ingredients (straight gluten!).
Hensperger recommends trying 3 basic recipes that utilize different essential aspects of the machine before moving on to her more complicated recipes. I started out by trying the first one, the Homestyle White Loaf on New Year’s Day and was astounded at the results–so much better! The loaf did have a strange, licorice-y flavor to it (the added dry milk?), but the consistency was amazing.
Surprisingly, it took us awhile to finish off the loaf, and so I just made the second starter loaf, Shepherd’s Bread, yesterday. This loaf requires a sponge–a starter mixture of water + a little flour + yeast–to create a more “rustic” loaf. And you all know how I love my foods rustic!
It took 4 hours for the sponge to come together and then 2 1/2 hours to make the bread in the machine, but it was so worth the wait. The texture, consistency, and flavor are simply perfect.
I can’t wait to try the last in the starter series, Whole Wheat Cuban Bread, next weekend and move onto the other recipes in the book.
Oh, and maybe make some more of these next weekend as well: Star Wars cookies! Amazing, no?