Baking is love.

I love to bake, especially in the fall and winter months, and my baked goods which seem to be most appreciated are bread, pies, and cookies. I reserve pie-making for holidays (and an occasional pie-splurge here and there). Cookies are a weekly thing: usually chocolate chip, although I admit I'm getting (literally) sick of chocolate chip cookies. But bread is always fun and never lasts as long as anticipated: it's the diamond of the baking gems. I started making bread when I was about twelve years old, which was a major accomplishment in my baking-challenged family, and was a Christmas staple: I usually made four loaves on Christmas Eve, which required a great physical stamina, considering I had to knead the bread dough for twenty minutes.

But bread isn't just a special occasion; after all, most carb-loving people eat bread regularly. So, yes, this winter I'll be making bread every weekend, instead of relying on the more disgusting-flavored bagged bread. Last week was the Betty Crocker recipe; it turned out quite pretty, considering I squeezed three loaves in the oven to bake, competing for the very limited heat. I had to bake it an additional ten minutes, to get that nice brown crust (total time= 45-50 minutes). Here's the result...

Normally, the crust of this bread recipe tends to become rubbery when left out overnight. I've tried brushing melted butter over the crust, which didn't help; this time I tried something different. I placed each cooled loaf of bread into one of those produce baggies you put your vegetables in at the grocery store, and twisty-tied each bag. This kept the crust from becoming impossible to bite, and the bread-innards were soft and flavorful. Yum.

My baking wasn't limited to bread this week: while waiting for the dough to rise, I made a batch of cookies from the Betty Crocker Cookbook (the older version, from the 60's). I think they were called "brown sugar drops." They turned out to taste like chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips (which I like, incidentally). Here's a glamour shot of the finished cookies...

Now that I've baked the Betty bread, I think I'll try a "no-knead" recipe I found a link to at Not Martha; I'll save my arm muscles for Thanksgiving.