Holy Crap! I made bread.

  

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a euphoric sense of super power during the first few weeks of a New Year.  You know when you feel like Superman?  When you look over your shoulder, you can almost catch a glimpse of your red cape fluttering behind as you start to sprint and take on the world.  

Remember that same sprint last year when you were running till about February and then ran out of steam? And then you said I’ll start again in March, then plans changed to June cause March was too cold. 
Then remember June came and it was too hot? The kids were off school which means less me-time anyway.  Then you planned for Fall but then school started and it was back to the ‘running like a headless chicken’ routine, making lunches in the morning and running to activities in the evenings and weekends were a blur anyway.

Then came Christmas and New Year’s Eve and you said what’s the point now, the year is almost over.

Yeah, remember last year?  Raise your hand if you are human like me.

Welcome 2016! Here’s to another year of resolutions that may or may not materialize. Cheers to another world-conquering quest that may or may not take flight. The joy may truly lie in attempting to wear that cape and trying to take flight. The rest of the story really depends upon life in 2016 as it happens.
Enjoy your lives folks. Truly try to live each day doing mostly what brings you happiness.

I started the year off with making bread. Science and math are certainly not my forte. Baking is a fancy word for science and math and hence baking is not my forte.
I did, however, wake up on New Year’s Day, came flying into the kitchen with my superman cape, did a few twirls, puffed my cheeks and did a super hero pose for a few minutes. I proclaimed to my boys:

“mother will make bread today”.  

I received some “oohs” and “aahs” in between joystick clicks. That’s good enough support. 

So here I was in my pj’s on New Year’s morning, punching dough and creating flour clouds. I was standing proud on my New Years’ resolution pedestal, holding the torch of flaming determination.  I was going to make this loaf of bread.  Even if it took me the entire day, and it pretty much did. 

Needless to say, I loved every minute of it. It was very therapeutic and liberating and I can sincerely say nothing comes close to the smell of a home made loaf of bread. 

We had the bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We had it for sandwiches, we dipped it in soup, we nibbled on it for an afternoon snack and midnight snack and we even took about 50 photos of it. 

There is really something unique about the experience of making and breaking your own bread!

Would I do it again? Perhaps..maybe..maybe not. Maybe it will become my New Year’s Day thing every year. But I think I deserve to be proud of myself for fulfilling a goal on the first day of the year. Now I can sit back and take it easy till 2017 :)

Ingredients for one very large loaf:

5 tsp active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs, plus 1 egg, beaten, for glaze

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 Tbs. poppy seeds or sesame seeds

Method :

Using a stand mixer, in the 5-quart bowl of a mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. 
Add sugar, 3 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt and butter. Using the dough hook, knead on low speed, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky.

  
Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes.  The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading. Remove the dough from the bowl using well oiled hands. 

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm area for about 2 hours until it doubles in size.

 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Punch down the dough to let the air out.  Next, scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface and cut the dough into 3 equal parts.  Oil your hands and roll each piece with your hands into an elongated rope about a foot and a half in length for each of the three portions.

Line up the 3 strands horizontally and pinch the 3 pieces at the top to fuse the ends together.  Start to braid the ropes and fuse the ends once braiding is complete.

  
Place the braided loaf on the prepared pan, cover with a dry kitchen towel, and let rise again in a warm spot for another hour until the loaf doubles in size and is spongy to the touch.

Preheat oven to to 350°F. Brush the braid with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. 

Place the bread in the oven and bake until golden brown for about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing with a sharp bread knife. 

Enjoy with just about anything! Oh and don’t forget to take photos!

Please forgive me as I got a little carried away with taking photos of the loaf as it came out of the oven.   

And a photo from the other angle..

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And a photo after the first bite! 

 

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