- Damaris Chanza
The Loaf is a Battlefield: Making Bread For The First Time
Learning to cook is about taking baby steps, but sometimes things can go awry.
After learning how to use yeast while making homemade pizza last year, George and I have been eager to try making bread. George was bold enough to want to start with sourdough bread, and I quickly shut that down; I wanted to build up to something that complex. I'm glad I did because, just like our chocolate cake, we were deceived by the final product's appearance.
We compromised and decided to make potato bread. Although neither of us can remember the last time we ate potato bread, we each have fond memories of it from childhood.
Learning how to make bread always felt practical and challenging to us. We buy one loaf of Bowl and Basket brand wheat bread once a week, and the expiration date always rolls around before we finish it. Every time we go to ShopRite, the expiration date printed on the bread is getting closer and closer. We figured making bread was economically conscious, and it's been one of our goals since we started our food journey at the beginning of the pandemic.
We found a recipe and discovered that bread-making mostly consists of waiting for the dough to rise. I honestly thought it would take more work. More surprisingly, a recipe that makes two loaves of bread only calls for one potato. I don't know the science behind bread making, but I thought there would be more than a single potato.
I boiled this sad singular potato, which took longer than expected, mashed it, and mixed it into some prepared milk. Once the mixture cooled off enough, we added the yeast and hoped we did everything right. I added the flour, and George mixed according to the directions. We don't have a stand mixer, so it had to be done by hand. When it was time to knead the dough, George's arm was exhausted, so it was up to me. For fifteen minutes. In a bowl placed on a counter, which made it a little too high for me. The struggle was real.
When my shoulder begged me to stop, I put the dough in an oiled bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. It had to rise for at least 2 hours, so we took that opportunity to go to the laundromat, where we heavily discussed how long it is acceptable to wear the same pair of pajamas.
When we returned, our dough had grown so large it looked like it would burst out of the plastic wrap. Our excitement can only be compared to a toddler eating chocolate for the first time. Per the directions, I squished the air out, halved the dough, placed it into the bread pans, and waited another forty-five minutes for a second rise.
We ate Five Guys and watched Star Wars The Bad Batch while we waited. After thirty minutes in the oven, the bread seemed done, but we thought the crust should brown more, so we left it in the oven for ten more minutes. This is where we made a vital mistake.
Our initial taste was good, but I can't say the same about our lunch sandwiches. So. Many. Crumbs. The bread fell apart, making it the most challenging eating experience ever I've had, including the time I could barely feel my mouth after getting my wisdom teeth removed. I made a massive mess in the break room at work, and George struggled so much that he gave up eating it.
Being so dry, we can't figure out what to do with the rest of the bread. Now our poor excuse for potato bread lies in a reusable Zip Lock on the bottom shelf of our fridge, just taunting us, waiting for another one of our feeble attempts to eat it. The bread shall not win. We welcome suggestions on what to do with an entire loaf of ridiculously dry bread. Anyways that was my experience making bread for the first time. I hope it turns out better next time.