Updated: Dec 30, 2020
MAKING BREAD REQUIRES SOME SERIOUS PATIENCE - a personality trait I apparently missed out on. As you may recall, automatic bread-makers were quite popular twenty-five years ago. My wife at the time thought I would be the perfect candidate to operate one hoping for endless loaves of fresh bread for the family.
It didn't happen.
Right from the beginning I had trouble measuring ingredients; it also seemed the packets of yeast were not in the mood to multiply. I also recall odd noises the bread maker made while it struggled at prepping the dough. My little viewing window was permanently fogged from the steam the machine created. The manufacturer warned against disrupting the various cycle settings and added a locking feature for the lid. I was never able to get around that darn lock, or the many mishaps I encountered.
This briefly conveys my attempts at trying to make bread which led to my decision to hide the bread machine in the bottom of the kitchen pantry. Forever.
The yeasty aroma that fills a house as bread bakes is a memory I savor, and is still the lure for me today. With that single thought, I headed to my grocery store hoping that I could find frozen bread dough. Why not? They had a 3-pack of freezer dough for $3.79. I quickly calculated that this would put me at a unit cost of around $1.25 a loaf.
This newer approach and price appealed to me.
I found an old metal bread pan buried in my lower cupboard. I washed it to be safe and liberally coated it in vegetable oil spray and placed the frozen dough block in the center of the pan, covering it with a clear plastic wrap.
How simple was this going to be.
The directions indicated that an 8 to 10-hour proofing was required. That was a bit of a disappointment, but I decided I would patiently wait the night and bake the bread in the morning during coffee. I retired upstairs to my bedroom to read and sleep.
The next morning, with eager anticipation, I bounded down my stairs to find the perfect proofed dough, an appearance I had only dreamed about. I carefully removed the plastic wrap and gently placed the pan in a 350 F preheated oven for 25-minutes.
My finished loaf (shown above) was lightly browned. I was in disbelief that I created such a masterpiece.
I proceeded to shake and pat the pan to release the prize. The tender composition of the delicate bread was its demise. Several pieces fell in a heap on my cutting board.
What a sad ending. I came so close.
Do you think this is the reason bakers dust their pans with corn meal?
Undeterred, I decided that a bread pudding was what the doctor ordered and this recipe produced one of the best I have made.
Bob’s Bread Pudding
2 cups of counter dried bread, torn and cubed
2 medium eggs
2/3 cup of favorite milk (skim)
3 TBS. brown sugar
2 TBS. melted butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon of vanilla
handful of raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the bread pieces in a buttered baking dish.
Whisk together all the other ingredients in a separate bowl, add the raisins, and pour over the bread and let the liquid soak in for a few minutes.
Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool a bit and serve with a dollop of Cool Whip, or a splash of bourbon.