I’ve always been intimidated by bread. Well, no. I’ve always been intimidated by the task of baking bread; bread itself I can handle. Oh, sure, I’ve made my share of quick breads. Our kitchen would be overrun with rotting bananas if not for the easy miracle of banana bread. But real yeast breads are another story. The closest I’ve come with much success is pizza dough and even then I’ve been dissatisfied with the results. Yeast are such mysterious little critters.

So it’s in this state of mind that I found myself browsing a great cookbook I gave Kathy for Christmas: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. It’s the sort of cookbooks that makes you want to try every recipe. The next day, I watched an episode of America’s Test Kitchen on which they made a beautiful loaf of rustic country bread. That was that: I had to bake some bread.

I started out last weekend with the country bread. The crust was way too hard, even for a hearth bread, but the bread inside was great: hearty, yeasty, soft & chewy. Spurred on my my semi-success, mid-week I made ciabatta using a recipe in the King Arthur book. Another success! Not perfect, but I’ve had much worse. Then yesterday, I made the plain white bread from the cookbook. Perfection. I’m sure I’ll settle down to an occasional loaf, but for now I’m on a tear. I’m really hooked. Next up will be an oatmeal maple sandwich loaf. Yum.