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So when I graduated from college I bought myself a fancy bread cookbook and said that I was going to take some time to remember what it was like to be human and I would make that journey through baking bread. Yeah, well, that cookbook then proceeded to languish on the shelf through my first marriage, the arrival and subsequent fabulous-ness of the Sly, my second marriage...and well, you get the picture.

After finding out Sly was sensitive to wheat I seriously considered just giving the book away. But our household isn't completely wheat-free and Lance and I still enjoy good bread.

In my journey to find happiness lately, I decided to break out the book as we are running low on grocery money at the end of the month (because I over-spent at the co-op...Oops.) and I have a fair amount of time on my hands. I also just really want to use it. With my considering going back to school in the fall and with Lance slated to deploy next January, I am trying to get myself into the healthiest mind-state I can manage.

Which is why I have a beautiful dough rising on my stove that I will shape into two baguettes and a round loaf. This will be sandwich bread for the rest of the week and the accompaniment to the spaghetti I'm making Wednesday night. I must say, it feels amazing.

This is my first time baking bread with a poolish. And it may not turn out perfect because I left it to rise in the oven with the light on and that was a touch too warm. Ideally, it should be rising at 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit and it was 90 degrees when I pulled it out of the oven to begin incorporating it into the final dough. I also folded the bread at the wrong time, but it looks beautiful. And as first tries go, I've followed the recipe and directions fairly well. I have a few more techniques to fiddle with, but I can see myself making beautiful bread for quite some time.

Next month, I anticipate buying yeast from the co-op and flour too. I want some organic flour that is cheaper than $3.50 a pound, so if they have that, I'm going to jump on it. Man, there are so many reasons that this bread baking fills me with joy. One of them is that it makes me feel connected with my ancestors. I was actually so excited I was up early this morning! That's saying something.

Date: 2012-01-23 06:10 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] the-changeling.livejournal.com
I prefer to rise slowly, in lower temps. :-) And I never start the yeast off, put it straight in. :-)

Date: 2012-01-23 06:56 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] ladysoapmaker.livejournal.com
Baking bread is so much fun and relaxing. And bread made from a starter can be fairly forgiving. Check out King Arthur Flour's website. Not only do they have great recipes to try but they have a wonderful blog and try to post as many pictures as possible so you get a good idea of what's going on.

Oh and if you buy the yeast in bulk go ahead and store it in the freezer. It won't kill it and it lasts longer. I buy by the pound and it'll take about a year for me to go through it.

Date: 2012-01-23 10:05 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] skylark913.livejournal.com
I also <3 baking bread. I haven't yet this season, which is kind of saddening, but it's all good. I prefer to make from a sourdough starter. It seems to go quicker and a touch easier. I just need to remeber to take care of my starter between batches, which is where the hard part is for me.

Date: 2012-01-23 11:05 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] elenbarathi.livejournal.com
Ah, nothing like home-baked bread in the winter months!

In your Imbolc rituals, do you have the Maiden wear the Bread Crown? Here's how you make one:

Take Pillsbury's Self-Rising Flour, a pinch of salt, a drip of olive oil, and water enough to make dough. Measure the head that's to wear it with a string, then roll out three 'snakes' of dough half-again longer than the string. On a greased pizza pan, braid the three snakes into a long, tight, plump braid and join it up in a circle slightly larger on its inside than the circle of string. (Make sure the joins are really secure, so it won't come apart when it's worn. Sprinkle sea-salt all over it.

Take eight pieces of aluminum foil. Wrap each piece around your little finger and push it down firmly between strands of the braid, leaving the foil in when you take your finger out. This is to make spaces for the eight white candles that will go in them to symbolize the Wheel of the Year.

Preheat and bake at 350 or so for a little while, till you can smell it's baked. Let it cool down before you stick the candles in - those thin white menorah candles work well, or large birthday candles.

The Maiden who wears it wears a veil under it, so she doesn't get crumbs or wax in her hair, or vice versa. She emerges dancing from the cave of Winter to bring Light and Bread back into the world. The flavor's not terribly exciting; basically a big pretzel - one could put some dill and rosemary in the dough to liven it up, but kids seem to like it fine just plain.

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