Monday, August 24, 2009

Scales, Cinnamon Raisin Bread, and Julie&Julia

I have decided that I have a fascination with bread, out of all the things that I bake. Cookies become a pain in the butt--seriously, all the scooping and plopping and individual things... what a pain! Bars are easy but boring, and fancy cakes... well, it's harder to know what to do with a giant 3-tiered 9" cake, you know what I mean? However, bread is fantastic. There is something so therapeutic about kneading bread, and for some reason, it's fascinating for me to watch it rise. The repressed biology nerd inside of me squeals a little squeak of joy thinking about the gasses created by the yeast... also, it just reminds me of genetics lab when we were replica-plating oh so many yeast plates...

That being said, breads are less fudge-able to me. I can usually play around with a quick bread recipe, or a cupcake recipe, but bread recipes... I try and follow the steps important to the chemistry of rising bread to the tee. So, with my gift certificate that my old work place gave me (I love them all--they ate through batches of cookies and cupcakes and bars during my undergraduate career, and when I graduated, they left me a gift card with a very generous sum... many thanks to dearest Ezra who is supposedly the one who put it all together), I bought myself a scale and a microplane zester. I'll spaz about my microplane later. For now, I have a beautiful black scale sitting in my kitchen, helping me measure out just the right amount of bread flour. I hate sifting my flour, and this beautiful machine allows me to just dump my flour out into a bowl--how amazing is that!?

I present to you, my beautiful new kitchen scale:

We'll see how long this baby will last.

With this sleek and simple, and yet useful, new scale of mine, I made two loaves of Peter Reinhart's Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread, sans walnuts (Yes, I don't like nuts of any sort in my baked goods, blasphemous, I know), which I suppose means just a Cinnamon Raisin Bread. This bread turned out to be one of the softest bread I made. Unfortunately, I dried out kind of quickly after being sliced--I'm not sure what to do about that. But the next day when it was just sliced, the bread was amazingly soft and tender.

Mixing all the ingredients together. That's right, metal bowl and a wooden spoon--no fancy, expensive Kitchen Aid for me. It's okay--I actually like it this way:

The dough after kneading and after the addition of the raisins waiting to rise for the first time.

After the first rise, the dough is then divided (this time with my awesome new electric scale!!!) and rolled into a loaf to rise a second time:

Doesn't the final product look SO GOOD?

I think it does. And it is very awesome indeed. I personally prefer a little more cinnamon flavor to the bread... I actually already added more than the recipe called for. Maybe it's something to make up for since I don't add walnuts in. I was thinking of giving it a little bit of a cinnamon swirl to it, or adding dried cranberries to it instead.

There has been a little more baking here and there--a chocolate chip chocolate fudge cookie, which screams of chocolate... perfect for those choco-holics out there. There has also been some breakfast fun with a whole wheat apple oatmeal pancake, but I'll inundate you with more food porn later.

Oh yes! And I had a chance to watch Julie&Julia, and it was an AMAZING film. To all the guys out there, it wasn't just a silly chick flick. It was great. How do I know? I dragged three other guys with me, and they all loved it. ...So they weren't the manliest of men, but it was still a good movie. It was sweet, and also hilarious. Meryl Streep is an amazing actress, and she was perfect for the role of Julia. :) You should ALL go see it.

Time to get back to those cover letters...

I hope everyone is doing great, and thank you guys so much for the comments and to those of you who are reading this! :)

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