Let’s Bake: Bread

Let's bake

Today I’m attempting for the first time ever to make bread. EEK!!!!! I wanted to embrace my inner pioneer woman and see how it goes!!! I’m the type of person who wants to make my own bread, butter, etc. I told you guys I was meant for the Old West lol!! I think I’d fit in just perfectly.

BUT ANYWAY, I followed this recipe by Taste of Home. This being the first time I’ve made it, I didn’t change or alter any of the ingredients or instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

It comes in a package of 3 but you will only need 1 of the packets. Link here.

  • 2-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)

I just used warm water from the faucet TBH.

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6-1/4 to 6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough.

I used my Kitchen Aid mixer but you can do it by hand also. Just add a 1/2 cup each time to see how much you’ll need. You don’t want the dough to be runny. You want it to look “solid” and not stick to your spoon.

*So I’m watching videos on Youtube about baking bread. It seems the best thing is to let your yeast and warm water set for 5-10 minutes on it’s own (without stirring) before adding other ingredients to “proof”. I may try that next time because it’s been on every video I’ve watched so far.

*no picture, I was stressing at this point lol*

  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

I think “floured surface” can’t be stressed enough. YOU WILL NEED LOTS OF FLOOR. It will be such a mess too. Don’t worry, you aren’t messing it up. I tried to put it on wax paper and do it that way but it just wasn’t working out. The paper kept lifting up, it would make holes, etc. I ended up putting floor into a large bowl and mixing it with floured hands that way. It worked 500 times better than the wax paper. Just make sure it’s mixed well. I think I’ll try using the dining table next time and just flouring the area really well. I also added in sprinkles of flour as I mixed it together. You want to lose most of the stickiness and it be a smooth ball of dough.

For the warm place, I put it in a greased bowl (place small amount of oil and rub it around the bowl with clean hands) as it says, covered with a kitchen towel and placed in front of our wall heater. I left it there for an hour.

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Letting the dough rise while covered in a warm place
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in two greased 9×5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.

Pretty self explanatory on this step. I divided it as equally as I could and placed into the greased loaf pans (you can use oil or butter). Then placed it back in the warm area with the kitchen towel over it. I left it there for 40 minutes.

*In the Youtube videos, I’m seeing some roll out the divided dough to get out air bubbles. Then they roll it into a log shape and then place into the greased pans. I just tried to shape mine and then placed into the pan. Another tip learned for next time!

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The dough after rising
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Dividing the dough into 2 equal parts then placing into the loaf pans
  • Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

I removed the kitchen towel and placed both bread pans into the oven at 375° for 27-30 minutes. It really just depends on your oven how long to leave it.

*Youtube showed to place the bread into the oven, then preheat it. It says while heating, the bread will rise some more. I didn’t do that this time but making several notes since I’m a newbie!

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Fresh out of the oven
  • After the bread came out, I melted some butter and brushed onto the loaves.
  • Wah lah! We’re finished!
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After I brushed the butter on them. Such a gorgeous color!

I think I did pretty well for my first try. It had a great taste and my family really enjoyed it. As I noted previously, I watched some Youtube videos and learned some tricks that I’ll use next time. Lucky for you, you can learn the tricks ahead of time by reading this and not learning by trial and error like I’m having to haha!!

I also recommend watching some videos on kneading your bread as there seems to be a technique to it. Overall, to me baking bread is a learning process. I think you’ll just have to make it a couple of times to get things just the way you want them or to get your technique/recipe just right. If it tastes good then that’s all that matters in my opinion!! If you attempt to make this, please share photos and let me know your thoughts below!

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Let’s Bake: Oreo Balls

Let's bake

You may or may not know that I love to bake. I’ve been trying to figure out how to mix books and baked goods but kept coming up blank. UNTIL NOW. I’ve decided to have a “Let’s Bake” feature on my blog. That way it can be all about baking without figuring out how to tie in books with it lol!!! I hope you enjoy this new feature and my first post.

I’m fairly new to the Oreo ball world. Last year was the first year I tried and made them. AND WOW!! What have I been missing out on my entire life??! They are soooo good!! They definitely don’t last very long in the refrigerator or at a party. Everyone loves them!! I found and followed a recipe from Snack Works . I think the recipe is pretty much the same no matter where you look but feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking. For example, I usually choose milk chocolate coating but there again, you could choose white chocolate or whatever you like.

Recipe: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 42 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 3-1/2 cups), divided
  • 4 pkg. (4 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

On the cream cheese, I used a Walmart brand and it tastes just as well as the name brands. Up to you on what you prefer of course. I’ll leave a link here.

I just use a family size double stuffed Oreos package which is 40 cookies. I’ll leave a link here. Also I’m not sure on the divided part but basically I take a small amount and put to the side to sprinkle on top of the Oreo balls after I’ve dipped them. It doesn’t take very much and it mostly for aesthetics.

For the chocolate coating I once again use a brand I found at Walmart. I just melt a small amount at a time because it will harden as it cools and you’ll have to constantly reheat it with larger amounts. I’ll leave the link to what I used here.

Instructions:

Crumble cookies finely. Let me tell you folks….I don’t have a food processor so I had to lay out wax paper , place cookies and fold the paper over, then crush by rolling a heavy glass over it. Of course this took FOREVER with 40 cookies BUT it got the job done. You could make it a family event and have everyone have their own rolling station lol!

*Don’t forget to set a small amount of crumbs to the side to sprinkle on top if you’d like. I actually forgot to do it while making them this time. OOPS. Not a big deal though.

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MIX  cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended. I set my cream cheese out for a little bit to soften or I just place on a microwave safe plate and microwave it for a few seconds. Combine the cream cheese with your crushed Oreos. I mix with a spoon and then, with clean hands, mix together by hand.

SHAPE  into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. I made 41 this round. I don’t measure these out so they’re probably all different shapes and sizes but that’s okay. Make them as small or as big as you like.

I take a cookie sheet and cover with aluminium foil. I’ll lightly spray with PAM so they don’t stick and place in the freezer. For me personally, I leave them in the freezer for 45 minutes to an hour. The reason being, I found they fall apart if they aren’t frozen for longer periods of time when they hit the warm chocolate to coat them. Better safe than sorry!!

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Check out that spacing though lol!! I made about 1.5 baking sheets of these. I tried to keep it all the same size but hey, i’m not a professional by any means. The taste is all that matters.

Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs. What they fail to mention is melting the chocolate. The chocolate I had comes with indentations so you can break off how much you’d like fairly easily. I take about 2 or 3 squares at a time and melt in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds at a time. I used 6 squares to cover 41 Oreo balls. WARNING: Chocolate can burn! I’ve done it, and it smells awful. Plus you ruined the chocolate because you won’t be able to use it after that. This is why I take it 30 seconds at a time and stir. You don’t want it soupy but you don’t want it thick either. Just use your own judgment for this. Also be careful when removing the bowl from microwave. It will be HOT! 

I also only work with one tray at a time. If you see the Oreo balls starting to sweat or thaw out, place them back in the freezer. The key is getting them out, dipped and back in freezer as quickly as possible.

As you’ll see below, I  haven’t found a “cute” way to dip these. They don’t look sleek and professional like you see in bakeries and stores. BUT like I said earlier, it’s the taste that matters. A quick tip is when you dip them (one at a time of course), use a spoon and tap the side of the spoon on the bowl to try to remove excess chocolate so you don’t end up with chocolate on every surface in your home. Then tilt your spoon to roll it onto the cookie sheet. At this time you may use your cookie crumbs you set aside to sprinkle on top. I forgot so I didn’t do it this round. No worries!! After all this, I place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes and then move to the refrigerator or serve.

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Little specks/lines are chocolate that fell while placing the Oreo balls on cookie sheet.

REFRIGERATE  1 hour or until firm. Keep refrigerated. There you have it folks!!! Delicious Oreo balls for a party or just for your family/yourself at home. They are pretty simple to make and you can make them ahead of time. Just keep refrigerated.

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I hope you enjoyed the first ever edition of “Let’s Bake”!!! I have a few ideas for upcoming posts so stay tuned!!! Let me know if you make these and be sure to send pictures!!! Have a great day!!

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