The only thing better than the aroma of freshly baked bread is the sweet smell of hot chocolate chip cookies; quarantine has provided ample time for my family to make (and consume) both. Over the past few months, we have experimented with many different varieties of bread in an attempt to make our lives more exciting. My family has always been a bread-loving bunch. For years, my mom has used a bread maker that mixes and kneads the dough. With this time-saving machine, we can add ingredients to the machine, leave it for two hours on “dough” cycle and return to shape and bake it in the oven (which we prefer over baking in the bread machine).
As our bread consumption has increased, so has our desire to switch up the types of bread. For years, we have repeated our tried and true staples of whole wheat French bread, cranberry oatmeal sunflower, cinnamon raisin, Irish soda, vegan challah and even pizza dough (contact me for any of the recipes — each is a big hit!). But with more time on our hands, I have paged through Jennie Shapter’s book Bread Machine, which contains every type of bread imaginable. My family exclusively uses whole wheat flour for all of our breads, so I adapted some of the recipes accordingly (including adding vital wheat gluten, which assists with rising). Below are a few of the breads I have tried so far, and my thoughts on whether I would make them again.
My mom has always wanted to make Partybrot “pull apart” rolls, and these were very fun to create. The recipe called for making one “milk dough” and one “wheat dough” and to alternate the placement of rolls. The bread ended up being crispy on the outside, and slightly soft on the inside. If I were to make them again, it would be more for aesthetics than taste, as they were very dense.
In the beginning of quarantine, my local bagel shop was closed, so I thought it was the perfect time to try making my own bagels. I enjoyed shaping and decorating the bagels, and it was fun to first boil, then bake our concoctions. The dough only made enough for mini bagels, which we ate quickly. If I make these again, I’ll have to Adjust the amounts of yeast and vital wheat gluten so the bagels are a bit lighter (using 100% whole wheat flour has its challenges).
Pita bread was one of our most successful experiments. I modified the recipe so that instead of brushing the dough with oil, I covered it with a damp towel while rising. The pitas baked very quickly and puffed up in the middle. They were delicious!
Our most recent adventure was making “Pain de Campagne”. This loaf is an easy sourdough, where you make a mini dough first, called a levain, which then acts as the starter. Although it was tasty, the bread took a while to bake and became too hard on the outside. If I make it again, I would add more yeast than called for in the recipe.
If you enjoy bread, this is the perfect time to try out a new recipe.
Melanie Metz is a rising junior in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.