I was feeling out of sorts today and wasn’t really excited to do anything, like I usually am. Didn’t want to read, bake, or write ”“ three things that usually give me much joy. The day stretched before me like the ringing peals of a bell ”“ each feeling of boredom longer than the last. Sigh. Somebody stop me. When I get this way, I can wax melodramatic about it forever.
So I pushed myself into the kitchen. I wasn’t in the mood for anything sweet (!) so I thought I’d make some bread. I’d been neglecting my baking for a long while now, and I blame the past summer heat for that. Now that the rains are here, being in the kitchen isn’t a sweltering tour of duty anymore. Besides, I’m sure all that kneading and pounding would help me release some aggression.
I’ve already mentioned that bread is my most favorite food in the whole world. I like all sorts of breads, even the Wonder Bread/Pullman loaf types. I prefer soft breads as opposed to the crunchy, artisan loaves that take three days to make. I’m no bread snob, and frankly, I only work with all-purpose flour when making breads. I used to flirt with whole-wheat flour but it’s hell to knead (so sticky!) and the bread would always come out heavy. No one at home would touch the stuff, and I live in a household where an empty breadbox is a tragedy.
There’s nothing to it, really, this business of making bread. I let my KitchenAid do all the mixing and then I knead the dough by hand on my Silpat mat, which as a pastry chef once told me, “…is the best thing since breathing.” I taught a bread class once, and I feel that bread-making is not something that can easily be taught. You develop your own style and you discover that touching the dough is the most important lesson of all. It will tell you if it needs more or less water or flour. It gets easier with practice. Of course the greatest plus of making bread, aside from eating it, is the smell that envelops the house while it’s baking. I don’t wear perfume, but if there were some way for me to bottle the smell of bread baking, that would be my perfume.
Since it’s so hot here in the Philippines, I have no problem whatsoever getting my bread to rise. I’ve read some pretty intense accounts of bakers in colder climes who resort to turning on their oven’s pilot light just for some heat.
Today I made something called Butterflake Bread, a soft loaf made yellow with the addition of three eggs. It’s called Butterflake because it’s got loads of butter (for one) and the dough is rolled up jelly-roll style and then snipped crosswise into slices. See the photo for reference. It’s baked at 400°F for 25 minutes, which I think is just too high a temperature because the crust got burnt. Perhaps I should’ve covered the loaf halfway with aluminum foil. I also made a batch of small rolls using a basic white sandwich bread recipe. Those were fun to do (and eat!)
In the end, it’s true what they say that you need to keep busy if something’s bothering you. Goodness knows if I’d allowed myself to dwell on why I was out of sorts, I might’ve gone out and bought myself another cookbook.