Off to a Good Start

So. 2009. We're already just over one week into the year. A bunch of changes will be taking place soon. New president. Fewer teeth for me (I'm getting my wisdom teeth pulled, at long last). More homemade bread.

Wait a sec. Bread?

That's right! Remember my not-so-resolute resolutions? One of the first items on my list of goals for the future is to become more proficient at baking bread. I adore the smell of bread rising in my oven, and of course it tastes marvelous. Plus, homemade bread is probably healthier than store-bought bread since I have more control over what preservatives and chemicals go into the recipe. (And I hope that my bread would have none of those!)

I'm very excited to report that my year of bountiful bread baking is off to a good start. Using my beloved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I made two small loaves of their rustic peasant bread over the holiday vacation. I made half of each loaf into two separate lunches' sandwiches for me. The first sandwich, which comprised my rather sad Christmas lunch but was a delicious splurge at the time due to my dicey recovery from a stomach flu, was filled with soy turkey, apple butter, canned pumpkin, whole berry cranberry sauce, and romaine. I made the other sandwich with more soy turkey, fresh mushrooms, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, and The Ginger People's ginger peanut sauce (which is who I will be receiving a gift basket from as a prize for their ginger holiday cookie contest!). The Best Husband Ever simply gnawed his portions of straight up, which I thought was an incredible compliment. He usually slathers my baked creations with butter or jam in order to make them more palatable to him, so the fact that he ate this bread plain truly gave me some warm fuzzies.

On top of my loaf-making, I also used the Williams-Sonoma cookbook, simply entitled Baking, which I inherited from my grandmother when she cleared out her shelves a couple of years ago for the first time. I made a couple of batches of their gluten-free Spiced Fruit Loaf. Gluten-free thought it was, the bread ended up being enjoyed by all, regardless of allergies or a lack thereof. Light and sweet without being overbearing, it tasted like a perfected panettone, which I usually dislike due to its incorporation of citrus flavors (I stuffed my gluten-free loaves with dried cranberries and golden raisins). The Best Husband Ever surprised me again by eating most of our loaf of this bread plain. In fact, this bread was so good that it was nearly gone before I managed to snap a photo of it.

All around I've already experienced some true bread baking successes this year. It excites my inner chef, my taste buds, and my belly all at the same time. Huzzah for homemade bread!

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