TWD – week 1 – White Loaves

Hey y’all.. So here’s the scoop.  I had heard of this online group called “Tuesdays With Dorie” a long while ago.  They baked through Dorie Greenspan’s entire 500 page cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours over I think about 2 years.  I have the book and make pretty much all of my favorite recipes out of it.  Dorie knows just what to say, and the right information to share, to help you succeed in whatever type of baked good she has you make.  For some unknown reason (I guess they think it’ll appear easier if the recipe is super short?) hardly anyone else really leads you through the whole recipe with the necessary thoroughness.  I really wanted to join the group right when I found out what they were doing, but they were already well into the book, and you can’t join part way through.

Fortunately, almost at random, about a month ago I googled the group again and saw that I had caught them just in time to start up their new book, Baking With Julia!  Our first recipe was White Loaves.  I’ve always been afraid to bake bread with yeast, because I’m so unfamiliar with the techniques used.  I’m used to making pie/tart dough, scones, etc. which require minimal dough handling.. but with bread it’s the exact opposite.  Instead you knead that ball of dough for like, ever.  Let me show you how it went…

I don’t know how it’s supposed to look when a KitchenAid mixes dough, but mine didn’t seem to be working very well.  The dough would all ride up on the hook and I had to hold the mixer down on the counter to prevent it from skipping right off onto the floor.  So I took the dough out and kneaded by hand.  This was the hard part.  So many other TWD bakers acted like this was the easiest recipe ever, but dang.. I thought it was a lot of work.  I kneaded for about 45 minutes and the dough still never transformed into a perfectly smooth ball like I always see in pictures.  ha.  It looked like the surface of the moon.  It kept making tons of little tears every time I kneaded, and they never smoothed out.

I didn’t know whether to keep on kneading or just stop.. because those details weren’t in the recipe.  ”Am I just the world’s slowest kneader?  Or.. if I keep kneading will something terrible happen to the dough, like turn into a solid dense brick of bread in the oven?”  I had so many questions unanswered.  To be honest I was really surprised Dorie hadn’t thought of these questions that might pop up for a first timer.  It made me think I have a lot (a lot) to learn about bread baking before I feel I understand what’s happening at each stage.  This is the very thing I love about baking (having a complete understanding about the entire process from start to finish, knowing what should happen all along the way) & I didn’t have that this time.  I sound pretty dramatic, I know, but I wanted to say that as sort of an introduction to get it out of the way.  The fun in it for me is that I’ve studied, I understand, and then can make amazing baked goods.

Anyways, moving on..  I enjoyed watching the dough rise.  Every few minutes I would go by and see it growing ever so slowly.

Despite my uncertainty, it totally worked.  I was so excited to see these 2 pretty golden loaves come out of the oven!  My first bread!  😀

I think for my first time, it turned out pretty darn good.  Better than good.  I thought it would be super dense, and it may have been a little dense, but it’s really very good.  Right after I cut into it the center was nice and chewy with a little crunch around the edges.  I’m still not convinced I did it right though!  lol  I’ll get better though.. I’m not worried.

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