I love to bake bread, a task that forces you to putter at home as you wait between steps. With two puppies to train, I'm confined a lot to the kitchen. Might as well make good use of the time.
I'll admit that I used to be intimidated by the first steps in the process, the proving of the yeast and the forming of the dough. But I've overcome my fear of my yeast dying a horrible death -- an error that I commonly made during my early (12 years old) attempts at bread making and my Artisan, once again, has eased the tension over the rest. After that it's pure bliss to knead bread dough. It's almost alive with warmth and bounce and I love that when I put it to rise it does just that, like it knows. But between you and me, my very favorite part is punching down the risen dough. Don't ask me why. I just love letting my bread exhale.
I know a lot of people make this part of their chores and the bread becomes a staple for the family. But I think the very best thing about making your own bread is eating it fresh out of the oven. After that, it's really okay and all. It's that half hour after baking that makes homemade bread an unforgettable treat.
This is cinnamon raisin bread made with the standard white bread recipe out of Fanny Farmer with the sugar and butter doubled. Then, prior to shaping the loaves, I roll each half of the dough into a rectangle, spread with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and a handful of raisins. Then I roll up and shape my loaves.
Needless to say, one loaf is gone. The other will be breakfast.