I’m listing to an old Modern Witch podcast, with a couple of candles burning (all parafin – I’m trying to use up my parafin candles… again. Even though I’m rather loving the option of candle light any-old-time that I want it. I’ve used up the wicks in a huge candle center-piece… thing (it was a house-warming gift back in 2004, at Mabon) which involved glitter and candles shaped like apples, and… it’s just this huge lump of wax now, still with the glitter, and with, like, fake flowers stuck in it… And I want to melt it down and make new candles – possibly by using espresso mugs to make container-candles – and gift them to my mom (most likely) when Secular Xmas rolls around.
There’s snow on the ground now, and it’s dark by 5pm. Winter has arrived.
It feels good, if you can believe it. A big part of that is because I don’t have to go out in it all that much. My wife, I suspect feels a little differently, since she’s got a 10-15 minute walk to and from the bus, and then the wait for said bus, twice a day to get to and from work. But I’m enjoying it.
I’ve got a spicy (pre-spiced at the store) pork tenderloin roast slow-cooking with potatoes and beets and onion (and turkey stock, and apple juice) in the crock pot for tonight’s dinner, and I’m trying to sort out what to do for dessert.
It’s nice to be able to take a day and try to get a little bit (more) of the house in order. I’ve got some mending to do and some sorting to do, but I’ve re-organized a little bit of the storage shelves in the Work Room and that (I think) will make a big difference in terms of making it easier to change the sheets, and put away the clean linens and such-like.
So, above, you can see my latest loaf of bread.
I’m showing it off because, while it’s always tasty, it rarely looks this photogenic.
When I make bread, I do use a recipe, but it’s a recipe I’ve been using for so long (going on twenty years at this point) that I’m not really using a recipe anymore, so much as a set of guidelines.
Fill the bottom of a large bowl to 1-2 inches deep with warm/hot water from the tap. Add a scoop of sugar (by “scoop” I mean 2-3tbsp… I think) and one tablespoon of yeast. I actually measure out the yeast.
Whisk in the yeast (I use a fork) so that all the yeast gets wet.
Set a plate on top of the bowl to keep the heat in and let it sit for a bit until things get really frothy and bubbly.
Add two cups (or so… depending on how much water you started with) of wheat flour, and mix it in really well. You will get a very wet dough. This is what you’re going for.
Cover again, and let it sit until the dough doubles in size.
Add more flour. Enough to make a still-kinda-sticky but not gooey dough, which you then knead.
Cover again, and allow to double in size again.
Knead the dough. Basically the idea with kneading is that you give the dough a really rough massage, while folding it in half over and over and over again. Which makes no sense and complete sense at the same time. You will have an easier time of it if you oil your hands first. I’m just sayin’.
At this point you can either let it rise again (and knead it again), or not, but eventually what you do is:
Cut the dough in half (unless you don’t have nearly enough dough to make two loaves) and roll each half into a loaf shape.
Pop each loaf into a greased loaf pan and cover them with a little reuseable plastic shower cap. (Or a tea towel, or plastic wrap, or whatever. I find that my little plastic shower caps work really well – I get them at the dollar store, fyi – and are a good mix of [flexible + heat-containing] AND [reuseable/non-waistful]).
Turn the oven on to 350F (it is now PRE-HEATING).
While the oven pre-heats, allow the dough to rise in loaf-form until either (a) it’s doubled in size and/or (b) it’s risen above the lip of the loaf pan (note: NOT until it’s falling over the lip of the loaf pan. It will yet get bigger in the oven, so be aware).
Take off the plastic hats.
Put the bread in the oven and let it bake for… 35-45 minutes? Probably? Until it’s golden brown (I use polished/white flour, so this is rather more obvious maybe?). Until it smells like BREAD rather than dough. Until there’s a crust on it. Until, you can tip it out of the pan and into your (wear an oven mitt) hand without it sticking, and – when you knock on the bottom – it sounds a little bit hollow and the surface of the bottom feels a little bit springy.
Let the baked bread sit in its pan for a couple of minutes.
Brush the top with butter. This is key because it keeps the crust soft and cuttable, without turning it to moosh. Do this thing. (Also: salty and delicious).
Then you wait a couple more minutes, and then you start cutting it up and eating it with butter (or with whatever you want to put on it) while it’s still hot.
I give the first piece to my Lady of the Hearth, but you have your own People to make offerings to. 🙂
So that’s how I go about making bread.
Today I’ll be making more candles (beeswax tealights) and maybe felting some soap, before getting on with some (for pay – YAY!) transcription work.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 Secular Xmas, for my family-of-origin, is most likely going to be happening between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, whenever my brother gets time off fromt he hospital. So we’re probably going to spend Secular Xmas (December 25th version) with Ghost’s F-o-O instead.
 My loaft pans are these 35-40 year old pressed tin pans that belonged to my mom before they belonged to me. She made bread in them every Friday when I was a very, very little girl and she was just a little younger than I am now and, hey, here I am using them to do the same thing for my own family. Everything moves in cycles, right? 😉