Last week, I started simple with the crusty french bread recipe that came with the pan and it was successful! It tasted just like the french bread from a bakery and so I was pleased, regardless of it's slightly odd appearance... The proofing process was a time of growth and learning for me: there is no "warm area" in our apartment. It is all cold-a fact that we like most of the time, but does not make for conducive bread rising conditions. I found that if you run the microwave empty for about 30 seconds, it makes a great "hot box" for a couple of hours, but by this point, the bread had already suffered slightly. It didn't help that I was distracted by pizza dough making and marinara cooking, but it all turned out great in the end!
This week, I started a dinner of baked potato soup to cooking in the crock pot and then took to the interwebs to find a new bread recipe. Tripp and I saw something about pretzels earlier on tv and since I rejected his suggestion to bake both the weeks bread AND pretzels tonight, I settled on pretzel bread. Easy enough- the normal bread process, except you add a baking soda bath after the last proof and baking. I don't mind the extra step, mostly because I enjoy entertainment of the fizzing and bubbling when you add the baking soda to the boiling water :)
They turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself. They look like the Snyder's Brand Pretzel Nuggets. Really, really big pretzel nuggets.
Once cooled, one loaf is bagged and stored in the bread box and the other is bagged and frozen to help preserve it. My original intent was to bake off two loaves to last us two weeks, but during both trials, I've ended up with fairly small loaves. Either I'll be content with that (it's not like I don't have time on Sundays) or if life gets crazier, I might double the recipes, make larger loaves, and only bake every other week? We'll have to play it by ear, but I'm liking the bread every week for now. It's cathartic and peaceful. Helps me wind down before starting another week of work.