A couple of days ago I was just saying how baking bread was one of the things I am having a hard time keeping up with since Ara was born. It's been better since mostly because I've been making a double batch at a time so I don't have to make it as often. This got me thinking about the fact that I have a lot of little things I do to make making everything from scratch easier so I thought I'd share all my "tips" with you.
1. Start early! I usually get my bread dough going before 9am in the day if possible. Two reasons for this: One, the longer the dough rises the better your bread results, the better your bread results the more motivation you'll have to make it again. Two, my kids are always happier in the morning so it's really the best time for me to get things done.
2. Get one of these...
Seriously, I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer a couple of times a day. If you want to be doing a lot of bread making and baking, make sure you bite the bullet and buy the professional series, just because it's so much bigger. I only have the Classic, which I bought before I had kids and now it's just not big enough. One day I'll buy a bigger one but for now this one will have to do. I'm sure there are other great stand mixers out there too, but I've only tried one other (a Sunbeam, wasn't a fan) and so for now I can only recommend Kitchen Aid.
3. Don't go to bed with a messy/dirty kitchen. This tip may seem ridiculous to you but I used to leave the dishes for the next morning all the time and it was so counter productive. If I wake up to a messy kitchen I just about guarantee you I'll avoid that room all day. If I wake up to a nice clean, clutter free kitchen I just get the urge to mess it up with some baking!
4. Buy a nice big glass bowl. Dough rises so much better in glass then plastic and when you have a damp towel draped over the top you can still see how high the dough has risen without lifting the towel and disturbing the dough.
5. To me, buns seem to freeze better than bread. If you want to make a double batch of bread dough to save yourself time, make one batch of bread to make now, and use the leftover dough to make buns. I have yet to freeze a loaf of homemade bread and had it fresh when it thaws. Buns however always seem fresh once thawed. (any theories on why this is?)
6. Make sure you always have all the ingredients you need on hand. I buy BIG bags of flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and always make sure I have plenty.
7. Make lots and freeze half. Like I said before if it's bread dough, freeze buns. If you're making muffins buy yourself some silicone muffin cups. I make double batches or more (my family can go through an entire dozen a day) and instead of dirtying 2 muffin pans, I just line them with the silicone cups and after the first batch, I pop them out, line the same pan with the same cups (you don't need to wash them in between) and pop them back into the oven. If you're making cookies make a few dozen and freeze them by one dozen at a time. That way they won't get stale sitting out and you'll always have fresh cookies to eat. Plus, half frozen chocolate cookies are AMAZING.
Well I could probably come up with a few more tips for you, but my lunch is ready so there you go! What are your kitchen tips?