It is not possible to compare the aroma of bread baking to another food cooking. It is the best, and a comfort food for me.
My mother had homemade bread on our family meal table the majority of the time. She had great pride in the bread she made.
We always enjoyed coming from school to a snack of homemade bread fresh from the oven.
Making homemade bread is challenging and satisfying. Yeast is a critical ingredient to yeast bread success or failure. Here are some tips from “Fine Cooking” Magazine, February/March,
* Expiration date: Yeast is a single-celled microorganism that is alive. Over time it can die. Always use it before the expiration date. It should smell earthy or “yeasty.”
* Liquid temperature: The optimum temperature range is between 70 to138°F. Below 70°F
is too cold to activate yeast. Above 138°F will kill yeast. Optimum temperature depends on type of yeast.
* Salt: While important to regulate dough proofing, adding salt before yeast activates and
multiplies can restrict moisture to yeast and starve it to death.
* Not punching down dough: During proofing, the dough creates alcohol. Without punching down, too much trapped alcohol will poison the yeast.
Here is the recipe for the champion bread at this year’s county fair. Brooke Marshall, from the Halstead 4-H Club, made a Cherry Braid Dessert and won champion in the bread division.
Be sure to store it in the refrigerator as the cream cheese makes it perishable.
Cherry Braid Dessert
7 ounces. milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
3 cups bread flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Cream cheese filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 can cherry pie filling
Add the above ingredients in the order listed being careful not to touch the dry yeast to the liquid ingredients. Place container into bread machine and select Dough Setting.
Split dough into two separate pieces. Form dough into an approximate 12X12 inch square. With a clean ruler, lightly mark a 4 inch space down the center. Then mark dough on each side into
1 1/2 inch strips horizontally.
Mix cream cheese, butter, lemon juice and sugar together. Spread cream cheese filling down the center and lightly on each strip. Top cream cheese mixture with cheery pie filling.
Begin braid by folding top row toward filling. Then fold strips left over right, right over left. Fold bottom ends towards filling and finish by stretching last strip and tucking under. Using both hands, carefully lift braid onto a large baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Brush with egg and let rise until double in size.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until dough is light brown. Let cool and frost if desired.