Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Just as the name of this blog implies, I do enjoy the simplest of things. I have talked in the past about growing up on the cusp of convenience. A time when so many products became available to ease the burdens of housework for the stay-at-home- mom as well as shorten daily housework tasks for those women that were heading into the work force. I don't begrudge any of the women of that day for jumping at the chance to try all these items. However, it did put me in a generation of gals that didn't always learn how to do these things for themselves. I never took a home-economics class in school and much of my early baking career was focused on a mix from Duncan Hines or a roll of dough from Pillsbury.
From the time I learned how to make my own butter by volunteering in The Princess' first-grade classroom, I have become more and more interested in learning how to make things in the kitchen from scratch. From butter to cheese, aioli (a mayonnaise like condiment) to mustard, freezing fresh fruit to making jam, and all sorts of breads, cakes and cookies, I find a wonderful satisfaction creating in the kitchen.
Bread making has been the most difficult. When my usual 'dive-right-in-and-see-what-happens' failed miserably, I signed up for a class at a local cooking store. I did come away with a better understanding of the chemistry and a respect for yeast and still my loaves tended to be more dense and heavy that I hoped. Watching Food Network, I learned that rather than just proofing yeast I could make sponge to start my dough. I tucked that little piece of info in my head. Then yesterday I got the chance to pull it out and put it to use.
It all started innocently enough. While enjoying my morning coffee and reading blogs, I came to a new post at Thee Handworks. She shared a link to a new recipe and I went to check it out. Breads of all sorts. Heaven. I quickly settled on a recipe for Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid. I had all the necessary ingredients on hand (remember all that fruit I froze last summer?) and the recipe offered me the chance to try out making a sponge.
Here is the sponge after only 30 minutes. I love kneading the dough by hand. It's rhythmic and relaxing - kind of like the rocking motion of hand quilting.
After a successful first rise.
All punched down and ready to go in the fridge over night.
This morning I prepared the fillings - think of the possibilities - blackberries, apples, cherries, apricots, maybe even brown sugar cinnamon with nuts. I want to try one in every flavor.
I was practically giddy when I got to this stage. I would have never believed that I could get mine to look like the sample.
Here they are - fresh from the oven. The house smelled absolutely delicious.
I'm taking them to share with my local quilt friends tonight. I only hope they taste as good as they look.

38 comments:

Julie said...

Yummmm oh! I swear I can smell it from here!

I'm jealous. I've had nothing but disasters in the bread making department ever since I moved up to the mountains. Of course, I'm trying to use the good ol' bread making machine. I guess I'm gonna have to try it the old fashioned way. You are an inspiration as always.

Angela said...

OH MY GOOOOOODNESS. Blueberry is my favorite and cream cheese anything is amazing! I love to eat it just plain with a spoon! YUM!

Carin said...

they look devine! I could lick the screen!

Paula said...

Oh those lucky, lucky girls!!! E-mail me for my addy and send me a slice!!!!! LOL Looks absolutely yummy!

Patti said...

Well, you certainly have my mouth watering! I'd give much to be there so I could drink a cup of tea or coffee with you and sample this fantastic creation!

The cinnamon rolls I showed last December are made with a sponge. They are the only bread I made for years. When I started making regular bread - which didn't call for a sponge - it seemed VERY odd!

Peg - Happy In Quilting said...

Yumo...your breads look so delicious...well done...

Wendy said...

Homemade bread what could be better. I'm sure it'll be delicious, I can smell it from her...LOL

Carol said...

OMG Libby those are beautiful...I can smell them all the way in my house. YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Karen said...

Way to go, how amazing that bread looks. Love the sequence.

Bren said...

Well your home sure did have a comfort smell...and taste...and sight...and touch...all from the same thing. It turned out beautiful. How did you get the braided look? I need to go see the link! Wonderful!

kjquilts said...

They are beautiful! I've never made bread before. Looks like I'll have to check out the link. Let us know how the girls liked them!

Beth said...

Oh my gosh Libby! Good job! I can't wait to hear how they tasted, I'm so jealous!

The Southern Mom said...

Oh my gosh...Oh my goodness...I'm at a loss for words! I'm with Carin, I'd lick the screen if it wasn't so dusty!

Angie said...

Just look at you, girl!! Those look so yummy...and they look like you've been baking forever, they are so pretty!! You just rock, my friend! :D Now, can I please have a piece, pretty please??? :D

Linda said...

Well, yum yum, I don't know that it's right to make my mouth water so early in the morning....lol... They look devine.

Katie said...

Yumm.. Can I stop by too?

Linda_J said...

My kneading efforts are a little hampered by sore wrists and thumbs but boy, do you make me want to try it again. Lucky quilting friends!! I bet you didn't come with a speck of it left. Yummers.

Congrats on the new camera too. Harper has never looked more handsome. The pictures looks so clear.

McIrish Annie said...

Darn! and me on the south beach diet! It looks amazing.

Darlene said...

Oh my, Libby - I could almost smell your bread this morning. I'm sure you left your local friends wanting more.

Crazy for Primitive Quilts & Gardens said...

Wow they are beautiful! And YUM.... I bet they are going to be fabulous. That is a lot of work and it definitely gives on an appreciation for the tough way women had to work to prepare food back 100 years ago. I am a big "Little House" fan and just reading that series made one understand all the complexities of cooking for a family.

Chris@Cats On My Quilts said...

I love making bread! When I first moved to NH we lived in a remote town and I had no car so I started baking to cope with the isolation and have done it ever since. My 30 year old son now loves to make bread and he brings me a loaf of the best sour dough bread every Friday when he drops off my grandson to babysit. Must be why weight watchers isn't working so good this time!

Marilyn R said...

Wish I was one of your quilting friends that will be able to enjoy your bread! Thanks for the link to the bread site. Hubby likes to make sourdough bread. I think he will love the info there!

Quilt Memories said...

What beauty, I cook VERY little,even when I am at home, really don't enjoy cooking, but I can just smell the aroma from that bread, Makes my mouth water, just thinking about it..J

Nadine said...

Hmmmmmm.... just the look is already a present ! I never made bread (took me ten years to make what my MIL called "the right pizza" :>) However, making my bread remains a goal... SO, I'm going right away to visit that site you mention !
THANKS, Libby, and... congratulations dear !

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO
NADINE

Lucy said...

wow Libby, your writing about this Cream Cheese Bread is absolutly mouth watering. I want to give it a try too :-)

Dawn said...

Dang - and I"m not local enough to get to share..... Man those are picture perfect!

Stina said...

What a treat...they look absolutely fantastic...bet they were delicious...

Guðrún said...

They look so delicious.

Doreen said...

Oh my goodness Libby..this looks wonderful...YUMMMM..I will need to try this...:)

Blessings,
Doreen

Kairle said...

So did they taste as beautiful as they looked?! I'm sure they did!!

Most of my family still can't believe that I make cupcakes (and other cakes) from scratch. Funny thing is, they sure love the results. LOL!

Cara said...

Wow! I think I may have to head over to Thee Handworks and get that recipe! The loaaves look lovely I have not made my own bread at least since the kids were born and really want to get back to doing it that way! Maybe this will be my start! Thanks for sharing!

Tracey said...

you tried it already?!?! wowzer!!

i printed out that recipe at the same time as the banana one. it looks SO GOOD, libby!! i'm thinking i'm going to have to make it this weekend for sure! :o)

tracey

yellowfarmhouse said...

OMG that bread looks like something right out of a bread book. You did a beautiful job on it. My goal for this year is to really get back into baking and so far so good. It's so fun to challenge yourself in learning something new. Would love a thick slice of it with a cup of coffee and we could chat quilting :)

Hugs - Karen

Valerie said...

Oh how your blog leaves me feeling hungry!

My Mother and I once in a while get in the mood to can. It's in many ways like quilting. Especially hand quilting. The connection you feel to the people before you who did those things out of necessity. I wonder what the women of those days might say to us now who do these things for a hobby? Lol*

TamboinMO said...

Wow! That did turn out beautiful!! Once I get my kitchen remodeling finished I've got to try that!!!

Jeanne said...

The bread looks so delicious! I can almost smell the aroma. And the strawberries! Oh, my. Your little 4 Seasons quilt is really cute.

Rabbit Stitchings said...

Libby! Oh my gosh girly, wow at your bread! I miss bread terribly! This really makes me miss it LOL... I would so love to make and eat that!!! you did such a great job!

Chookyblue...... said...

my mouth is watering.......this looks so good.........