Au­thor shares se­crets to mak­ing the 'Best Bread Ever'

El Dorado News-Times - - Living -

YANK­TON, S.D. (AP) — In her quest for the per­fect home­made loaf of bread, a lo­cal woman has pub­lished a book shar­ing her per­sonal method for get­ting per­fect re­sults from your bread ma­chine.

"Se­crets to Bak­ing the Best Bread Ever," by free­lance writer Loretta Sorensen, came out in De­cem­ber and is avail­able from Ama­zon and Barnes & No­ble.

"I started help­ing lo­cal au­thors pub­lish their books in about 2005," Sorensen said to the Yank­ton Press and Dakotan . "I knew just enough to be dan­ger­ous. (With this book), I did all the graphic de­sign on the in­side, and Cindy Ma­son, who is a graphic de­signer here in town, ac­tu­ally did the cover. I took all pic­tures."

Tak­ing her cue from her mother who made ev­ery­thing from scratch, Sorensen said she al­ways wanted to bake bread.

"Over the years, I've tried all the tra­di­tional meth­ods. I tried a mixer; I bought a food pro­ces­sor and tried that and noth­ing worked," Sorensen said. "When I bought the bread ma­chine 20 years ago, I was never happy with it. I used it a few times and then I wound up giv­ing it away."

In 2017, Sorensen's hus­band Alan was di­ag­nosed with cancer. As he went through treat­ment and re­cov­ery, the cou­ple tried to eat as lit­tle pro­cessed food as pos­si­ble, and Sorensen de­cided to try her hand at bread mak­ing once again.

"I thought, 'You know, I should get a bread ma­chine. I bet they are a lot bet­ter than they used to be,' she re­called. "Bread ma­chines might have more fea­tures, but the basic bread ma­chine is still the same."

Re­turn­ing tem­po­rar­ily to the tra­di­tional method, Sorensen had an epiphany.

"The thing that changed it was, I started us­ing my dig­i­tal ther­mome­ter to check the tem­per­a­ture of my liq­uid," she said. "That is the key: start it out at the per­fect tem­per­a­ture range and try to main­tain that warm en­vi­ron­ment right through to when it's time to start bak­ing."

The bread ma­chine, she re­al­ized, could be used to do the hard work, and com­bined with her new­found knowl­edge, could yield bet­ter re­sults.

"I went tra­di­tional, which is a lot of work, and ac­tu­ally, no mat­ter how good you are at it, the tra­di­tional way, I could never mix it as thor­oughly as the bread ma­chine does," Sorensen said. "It does it for 15 min­utes at a time, two knead­ing cy­cles. I couldn't do that."

Cur­rent yeast has smaller gran­ules than it did when her mother baked, so should be eas­ier to ac­ti­vate, Sorensen said.

"How­ever, my ex­pe­ri­ence has been: ac­ti­vate it; get it started; make sure it's good," she said. "I did some re­search, too, on the chem­istry. You've prob­a­bly heard that bak­ing bread is an art, and there's some truth to that, but there's also some sci­ence in­volved."

Sorensen's book be­gins with a bread­mak­ing cheat sheet that lists ev­ery­thing that she found con­trib­uted to a bet­ter loaf, in­clud­ing tem­per­a­ture and equip­ment specifics, as well as ad­vice on bread-mak­ing ma­chines.

With her new bread-mak­ing method, Sorensen fi­nally got con­sis­tent, de­li­cious re­sults.

"Bread is sen­si­tive, so there is a lit­tle vari­a­tion (in re­sults)," Sorensen said. "The thing that is con­sis­tent for me is this: a high ris­ing loaf and light, fluffy bread, that's 100 per­cent of the time. That is what sold me. I don't have to worry about, 'Will this time be flat and brick-like? No.'"

Sorensen was so pleased with the way her bread was com­ing out that she started shar­ing her meth­ods with friends.

"Ev­ery­one's like, 'What are you do­ing? I have the same trou­ble with my bread ma­chine.' But there are so many lit­tle tips," Sorensen said. "I did a bread blog. I blog for Grit magazine about mak­ing bread, and as I went, I thought, 'I need to put this in book for­mat so that, first off, I can give it to fam­ily and friends, and ev­ery­one that is re­ally in­ter­ested has all the in­for­ma­tion that I learned and I can just hand it off to them."

In the book, Sorensen rec­om­mends us­ing a bread ma­chine, but of­fers ad­vice on us­ing a mixer, or us­ing the bread ma­chine solely for mix­ing and knead­ing.

"In fact, there is one recipe in here from a friend of mine who uses a bread ma­chine to do the first knead­ing and the first rise, but then she takes it out of the bread ma­chine and rolls it out flat," Sorensen said. "I have tried that, too. It's con­trary to logic that you would roll that dough out flat and squeeze out any air bub­bles, but that will give you a pretty good loaf."

Us­ing a bread ma­chine to do the hard work will yield won­der­ful fresh-baked bread in about two hours, Sorensen said.

"Most of the time is at the front end, when you have to get ev­ery­thing in the ma­chine," Sorensen said. "I rec­om­mend a bread ma­chine for sure."

In the book, she also in­cludes thor­ough dis­cus­sions on flour and grind­ing, as well as recipes for bread, buns and rolls.

"This is a happy cir­cum­stance, and I do think it will help a lot of peo­ple," Sorensen said. "Bread ma­chines are com­ing back, and if some­body buys one, at least they would know what their op­tions are."

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