It’s been nearly a year since I wrote about my fear of making bread. I resolved last New Year’s to confront my fear and start making bread. Did I do it? Technically speaking, yes. I made a few quick breads – like cranberry and pumpkin – and Jamie’s Beer Bread and my mom’s Irish Soda bread, both quick and delicious. But did I venture into the realm of yeast bread? No.
The Anderson family gathered for the holidays at my parent’s house in Pennsylvania. Sharon and Tony, who had said they would be in charge New Year’s Eve dinner, came with a carload of food, beverage, utensils, kitchen gadgets…and their sourdough starter (doesn’t everyone travel with a sourdough starter?). They made fresh bread for us every day. Atkins Diet followers and lovers what you are about to read may disturb you so perhaps just skip to the next paragraph: between six of us we’d eat a loaf for breakfast – sliced, toasted and topped with eggs, jam or just plain butter. At dinner we would eat an entire loaf, using chunks of bread to clean our salad plates and to scoop up the last remaining bites of pasta sauce. There is something simply irresistible about fresh baked bread.
As Sharon made bread each morning, I sat on the periphery, half watching. Honestly, I was jealous that my little sister was turning out fresh bread faster than hotcakes and making it look so easy. But the more I watched, it looked like a pretty straightforward process.
I finally plucked up the courage and said I’d like to try. We had enough ‘regular’ bread in the house and it was a lazy Friday morning so I aimed high and decided to make swirly cinnamon bread. We did a little Googling to learn about making cinnamon swirl bread. Mom and Sharon were in the kitchen with me, overseeing, but I did it on my own. Dare I say it was easy?
The hardest part for someone like me is the waiting. I am not a patient person. But impatience, coupled with excitement, meant that I checked on my dough every fifteen minutes for four hours. I kept my bowl of rising dough by the warmth of the fire so that it would rise a bit faster (though Sharon tells me that the faster the dough rises, the less flavor it develops). I kept peeking under the towel to see that smooth, round ball growing and to smell that sweet, yeasty dough, with a hint of cinnamon.
By the time we finished dinner on Friday night, my two loaves were coming out of the oven. Though we had just polished off a loaf of Sharon and Tony’s sourdough bread with dinner, we couldn’t resist cutting into the loaf and trying it. We all agreed it was perfect, a delicious balance of savory and sweet. The next morning we toasted thick slices of my cinnamon bread and spread them with butter. The family loved it and I felt proud.
On our way back to the city Andy and I stopped at the grocery store. I picked up a big jar of yeast, a sack of bread flour and made another batch of dough. This time, I made rolls to go with the soup we had for dinner. I’m grateful to Sharon and Tony for the sourdough starter and for showing me that making bread is easy and so worth it.
Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon says
Maggy, I have a serious fear of yeast that I’m trying to overcome. I’ve armed myself with The Bread Bible to try and learn what seems to come so naturally to so many others.
Congrats on your cinnamonny win.
Well, it’s not often that big sisters look up to little sisters. I know I’ve spent many years thinking everything you do, say, or wear is the best thing since sliced bread (haha). So, I am really proud and excited that watching me and Tony make bread daily inspired you. And, for the record, this cinnamon bread was AMAZING!
I hope you keep baking, it’s one of the great joys in life, I think.
Bob M says
Reading your post brought back memories of my Grandmother making bread every couple of days. I remember getting to help her knead it. I was a little boy so had no idea of how she did it. Just how good her Sunday dinner rolls were. Warm dinner rolls just out of the oven and butter! Heaven! Margarine was white with a yellow color package to mix in for a yellow color.
Gonna go for it this year!
I would say I have two favorite smells — fresh coffee brewing and yeast bread baking in the oven. Mmmm. I grew up in a home where my mother made bread every Saturday morning for our large family. She handled those hunks of yeast dough with such confidence — like they were just another one of her kids! I didn’t realize how much I learned just by observing her, but working with yeast is one of my all-time favorites. Keep up the great work, Maggy. Now hmmmm, when can I come for dinner at your place?!!!
I also have a fear of making bread, but learning how is one of my goals for the winter. This would be a great place to start. A question: my food processor is on the small side. Can this be mixed by hand successfully?
I too had a fear of yeast for a long, long time. On the 2 year anniversary of my blog (Mignardise) I challenged myself to make several things I had never made before. Bread was the first.
Now I swear by Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I can’t believe how easy it is. Wish I had done it sooner!
I’ll have to try Cinnamon Swirl next.
Barbara | Vino Luci Style says
Glad to see you moving forward; bread does seem to carry with it an unknown that makes it seem scary but as you’re finding out…it’s really not. I recall my virgin experience (with bread, people!) and that recipe, now over 30 years old is still my favorite. I think it’s a great bread but I wonder if the memory and the magic of that first success doesn’t somehow always enter into the equation!
I am a yeast bread baker…I almost always use my trusty bread machine.
sometimes yeast scares me and sometimes it doesn’t. for example i’m famous for whipping up pizza dough one weeknight and then having it ready for the next night. no problem. but then i never try making complicated breads, like forget about starters. i have had luck with no-knead breads though. they make things a little less scary. but as for quick breads, i’m pretty much obsessed.
Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says
I make yeast bread at least once a week. It lasts about half a day in my house. Seriously.
Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says
You know this is on my to-do list to conquer. 2011? Maybe so.
So, does that mean you’ll be traveling with your own starter too? I guess I need to get some form you all!
elaine Clemens says
Ate at The gathering in Camp Verde, AZ. They had a spread made of black olives, olive oil, mayo, and ??????. It was delicious and I want the receipe.
I’ve tried to make bread multiple times and it hasn’t turned out too well. I feel your pain and applaud you for your persistence! I’m happy it all worked out
I’ve been making my own bread for about a year. It started innocently. I was at the grocery and had picked up a loaf of bread. I went to the baking aisle and noticed the price of flour. For the price of a bag of flour (and some yeast) I could make lots of bread for about the same as the loaf I had in my cart. The loaf went back, I made the bread and I was sold. Not only is it a money saver, I know what’s in it. I’m a single empty nester and make 2-3 loaves weekly.
I’ve made lots of bad bread! Bricks, lumps, mush, 1 inch bricks. But my husband found the Artisan Bread book and there’s been no looking back. Another person commented on that book as well. It’s terrific. We really missed the old Midwood Brooklyn rye bread but now I can make it and it’s great. Don’t give up! Don’t be afraid! Keep trying! (Now if I could apply those encouraging words to help me overcome my fear of pie crust!)
Happy to hear you conquered the yeast! I love baking with yeast (prob. my first choice in baking) and I love to see others come to the realization of how basic and simple it can be! (and tasty)