Muscle Baking

Last weekend, I made cinnamon buns. I was not so satisfied with the outcome. They were not as soft as I expected. That was a kind of ok because they can be a little bit rustic. But, it could be better. What did I miss?

I love home made bread. It tastes different from commercial ones. It has a happy homey smell. Ironically, making bread is not so my thing. I don't like kneading. Kneading bread dough is a muscle job. I don't want any muscle on my arms. They don't need to get any bigger than they are. That's why a bread machine exists, right? Well, bread from a bread machine is not so appealing to me. I feel like it takes fun stuff away from me. I love getting my hands dirty. Some no-knead bread recipes at King Arthur Flour hooked me to home made bread. No-Knead Crusty White Bread is my favorite. Its rustic texture goes well with soups and stews. It kept me happy for a while, but I started thinking of Cynthia's soft rolls, which definitely requires kneading. She makes heavenly delicious rolls. I guess it's time to learn kneading.

I've held an apple butter rasin roll recipe for years thinking to try someday. Today is the someday.

This recipe has an egg, honey, yogurt and salad oil. I'm going to use a free range egg from Theresa. She cuts my hair. She and her husband have chicken in their yard. They sell their eggs to local restaurants. If I ask her in advance, she puts aside some for me. Their eggs are delicious. Their yolks are very bright. Their tough shells tell me the chickens are healthy and treated well. These are a kind of eggs you'd love to enjoy as simple sunny side, boiled eggs, plain omelet or flan.

I made an omelet the other day with those eggs. Even some milk was added, the mixture is still brighter than ones from grocery stores. Their price is more reasonable than so it called "organic" eggs at a farmer's market. Plus, they taste much better.

Anyway, milk, yogurt, egg, honey and salad oil mixture was added to yeast. I put flour and mixed, but it was pretty drippy. I kept mixing it, then it started getting together. It was ready to knead.

According to the recipe, I'm supposed to knead until the dough gets smooth for fifteen minutes. That is a quite exercise. Exercise is not my cup of tea.

After ten minutes, the dough looked smooth. I decided to move onto the next step. Actually, it was not as bad as my whining.

epicurious put a informational video for Kneading Bread Dough. It seems over-kneading doesn't make good bread either. You need to watch the texture.

First rise. It's supposed to be double the size. Today was not so hot, so I estimated it would take at least two hours. I got two hours free time for regular weekend chores such as cleaning.

I happened to take a picture of the bread dough of the cinnamon buns in this stage last week, which is the right one. The left is today's dough. The right one looks rough. I didn't knead it enough.

The rise is done. See how it turned big and puffy.

I led the air out from the dough, rolled out, spreaded apple butter, sprinkled walnuts and rasins, rolled them up, then sliced them up. Time for the second rise before baking.

Once the rising process is done, the rest of the steps are pretty quick. It seems that making bread takes a whole day, but it's not. Hands-on time is usually less than one hour. If you coordinate your day, you can do as much as you do normally making bread.

I followed the temperature in the recipe, but they turned too dark. A part of the cause could be the parchment paper.

The bread is nice and soft. Kneading is the key of bread's texture. It doesn't seem to be any easy way to get around it if you choose to work with your own hands. The labor is totally paid off. Even better, tomorrow's breakfast is ready.