Bready or Not

When fall temperatures arrive, it’s finally time to fire up your oven and bake some delicious homemade bread.

Laura Venosa, baker, crafter, jeweler and pottery artist is an Ocala Renaissance woman. We had the chance to talk all things bread with this expert baker and she gave tips on succeeding when you’re ready to bake—and break—bread.

What’s your favorite part of bread baking?

Everything, but I love that it’s a fun and healthy way to create something you can share with those you love. I personally love the contact, mixing the dough by hand.

For newbies, what are some key bits of advice?

Get a couple of good cookbooks and watch videos. Be sure to use unbleached flour rather than bleached. Invest in a digital scale, thermometer, bench scraper and a cast iron Dutch oven for making sourdough.

Does weather really affect breads? I’ve had different results in winter and summer for the same recipe.

Weather does indeed affect your kitchen micro climate. Dough will rise naturally and quicker on a hot summer day; in the winter it might take longer. It’s great to bake bread on a rainy day when the barometric pressure is low. Your bread will rise more quickly. That’s why it’s fun to experiment when baking. 

Can kids learn to bake early in life?

Bread making is great for kids. Kids can learn measurements, mixing the dough is fun, and cleaning up as you go and just spending time together creating something the whole family can enjoy together is very enjoyable. Adults should handle the oven part, depending on the ages of the children.

Any other tips or tricks of the trade?

I would say invest in bread making tools, a digital scale is a must and a thermometer…patience. Relax and have fun. It’s the best therapy and makes a beautiful housewarming gift with homemade butters, jams and flowers.

Pumpkin Boule Bread

  • 4 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour, more as needed
  • 1 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar divided
  • 1/3 cup of warm water (about 110°)
  • 1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add yeast, water and half of the sugar to a bowl with a dough hook attachment. Let sit 10 minutes until the yeast becomes frothy. › Add eggs, oil, cinnamon, salt and pumpkin purée. Mix together. › With machine running, add the flour a cup at a time. When dough is firm and comes together, remove dough and put in an oiled bowl. › Cover for one hour. › Punch dough down and form into one boule or two. Place on a baking sheet, score tops and cover with towel. Let it sit again for one hour. › Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 40-45 minutes until golden brown.

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