I’ve been looking forward to today’s bread baking class since Sue offered. I’ve been daydreaming about baking perfect, beautiful, amazing, spectacular loaves of bread. I’ve envisioned how wonderful they will taste, how light, and amazing. I used amazing twice, but you get the gist.

Baking bread isn’t foreign to me. I’m a baker at heart, from cookies, and brownies, to homemade granola, biscotti, donuts, cupcakes, muffins, pretzels, crackers, bagels, pies, flans, etc… I’m a little baker at heart. Most of what I learned to do, baking wise, I learned on my own, painstakingly through trial and error. When I was younger my Mom would ask me to bake batches of Mantecaditos, delicious Puerto Rican cookies made of almond extract, sugar, flour, butter, and lard. As soon as I’d pull one tray of cookies out they would disappear into the mouths of my family members, leaving me despondent that I hadn’t been able to enjoy a single one. So I would bake double batches and would wait patiently for the second batch to finish baking before I could taste the fruits of my labor.

Over time I figured out that the butter created a better cookie if it was left on the counter to soften naturally. And that mixing the dough with my hands produced an amazing texture and lightness. That was the start of my obsession with baking. I’m still a bit obsessed. I detest purchasing store made snacks and much prefer to fill jars at home with different baked products. Brooks loves being able to grab something different every day, though sometimes he becomes smitten with a particular recipe and will beg to eat nothing else for snacks for days and days.

Making homemade bread has always appealed to me. Never mind the smell. Never mind how amazing a slice of freshly made bread with tons of butter slathered on tastes. It’s the love that goes into it, the time and energy, the ability to control the ingredients you feed to your family. I love that. But I’ve had to muck my way through recipes, trying various combinations, methods, always in search of the perfect loaf of bread. My bread making hasn’t been awful, per se. I’ve made some decent breads, but they have, for the most part, not been so incredibly amazing that I’ve shunned store bought bread forever.

So when Sue offered to host a bread baking class I was giddy with excitement.

By the way, the next thing on my list of things to conquer would be canning. Yes, I did say canning.

Sue was incredibly patient with all her student’s question. And boy, we had plenty! She began my letting us taste generous slices of kamut flour bread. Kamut is an ancient grain that is highly digestible, and a good alternate for those who have trouble with wheat. I was expecting a strong taste, perhaps something bitter. Far from it, Sue’s kamut loaf was light, delicious, and left you wanting more.

So here is some of the process, though I would recommend taking a class with Sue. I’m not quite sure if she’ll offer more, but if she does, I’ll spread the word, because being able to see and touch the dough, to ask questions that have puzzled you, etc, I think that’s the key. It’s really the way kiddos learn to cook, under the tutelage of Mom or Dad,  imitating  different techniques, kindly being corrected when one does something incorrectly.

So thanks Sue, for stepping in and becoming my Bread Mom. I will remember you and yours each and every time I bake a delicious loaf of bread.

(If you place your cursor over the photos you can read the descriptions to the pictures. )

 

 

 

 

Sue began by showing us her milling machine. It wasn’t as loud as I expected and quickly made the flour necessary for baking. By the way, it’s like 300 bucks or something and although I’d love one of these puppies, I think I’d rather just buy my flour from Sue.

 

You could see the bran dispersed through out the flour.

 

 

 

 

Sue was not shy about explaining all the different types of grains, their various uses, nutritional content… you name it, she’s like an encyclopedia of bread making. Heart her!

To my chagrin, several of the products Sue uses I had never heard about, seen mentioned in any of my bread recipes, etc. Thankfully I was able to score the wheat gluten at the Commissary for $2.02. I’m not sure if that’s a decent price or not but I’ll take it. The dough enhancer I’ll have to order online or something. For the time being I’ll bake without it. There were other ingredients Sue uses, including freshly ground flax seeds (to preserve the nutritional quality) to replace a little bit of the oil she uses. She also only uses cold pressed olive oil in her bread and sucanat instead of regular sugar or honey. I don’t believe Sue would ever use regular sugar, but she got me very curious about the sucanat and I’m looking forward to ordering some and using it instead of white sugar at the store. My husband will be very happy indeed, sugar hater that he is.

She placed all of the ingredients, sans the yeast and the flour, into the mixer, and mixed for a few seconds. She explained that salt is used to help control the yeast and should not be added together as the salt will basically begin killing the yeast. She adds her yeast last. She also doesn’t fuss with the hot water (taking the temperature painstakingly like I do). Love that!

Sue begins adding the flour as various factors affect how much you’ll use from loaf to loaf. She discusses those in her class.

 

 

 

After the right consistency is reached (see picture above), the kneading begins, timed for five minutes (see picture below).

To test whether the dough is perfect and ready for rising you do the window test. The window test requires you to pinch off a small piece of dough and stretch it gently between both hands. If you see a transparent window in the dough as you stretch it you are good to go, though Sue also said it’s not imperative, that as long as your dough is pretty elastic you are good to go. And yes, I popped that ball of dough in my mouth quick after we did the window test. And it was delicious.


 The dough should come clean off the sides (see picture above), before being plopped on a special sheet thing. Sue does not use extra flour here and really, the dough was very manageable and not sticky. So I can see why she doesn’t, plus she said it will mess up your bread.

Sue weighs her dough, depending on the pan size. 

And then she taught us to form the dough by hand, pinching off the bottoms and sides before plopping it down back on the counter to seal the seal. See picture below this one.

Lastly, she spread a little olive oil in each pan.

And after letting the bread rise for 30 minutes, and baking for 31 minutes (a meat thermometer should register 190 degrees) your bread is ready to be devoured by your grateful and happy family. 

Sue’s class was too fun! It was nice catching up with the other homeschooling Momma’s and to spend a few hours in the kitchen together, in the quest to create delicious, nutritious food for our families.

On a side note, I am absolutely loving our homeschool curriculum! The Boy is learning so much already and we are only on day three. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get all our schooling in before our bread baking class but we woke up earlier and he worked hard to get it all done. I’m super appreciative for all the amazing advice I get from other homeschoolers who are willing to share their wealth of knowledge and experience.

I am going to try and bake my first, post Sue, loaf after the one we brought home gets consumed.

Happy baking!

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