Baking Bread

Yeast in the Time of Corona

Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Somewhere among all the COVID-19 updates in your feed you might have noticed that people seem to be baking a lot of bread these days. It makes sense– bread is one of those things that are suddenly in short supply in shops, but is easy to make at home (especially if you have a mixer with a dough hook). As soon as I realized our local store was out, I broke out the flour (and was grateful that there was still one pan I hadn’t packed yet). Although bread is now easier to find and yeast is selling out, baking is still a good distraction– and there is seriously nothing better than fresh bread from the oven.

Have you been baking lately? What else are you making while you’re stuck at home? Share in the comments…

(Pictures and recipe are originally from an old post on my other blog.)

Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas (ingredients)
For those of you not from Ontario– yes, that is bagged milk in the pitcher.
Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The dough is still too sticky at this point (it shouldn’t be adhering to the hook like that). Time to add more flour…
Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Once the dough sticks to itself but not to the bowl, hook, or you, it’s ready to  rise.
Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
After rising for about an hour.
Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Aluminum loaf pans I inherited from my mom. These are the best for baking bread, but you can use any loaf pan or baking dish. You can even just shape the dough and put it on a greased baking sheet.
Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Loaves shaped and left to rise. Use the next hour to read, message a friend, or contemplate the nature of existence (Netflix is also an option).
Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Ready for the oven. At this point you can brush the top of each loaf with a little milk or beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds or whatever else catches your fancy.
Baking Bread: Yeast in the Time of Corona, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
You might not have toilet paper, soap, or faith left in humanity, but you have delicious, sustaining bread, and that will take you pretty far.

Basic White (or Semi-White) Bread

This recipe came with my mixer and has quickly become my favourite bread recipe.

½ cup low-fat milk [I use 2%–you can use whatever you have on hand, including non-dairy milks]
3 Tbs sugar [you can use honey or whatever sweetener you have on hand, but not sugar substitutes]
2 tsp salt
3 Tbs butter [you can also use oil or margarine or any fat that will melt]
2 packages [or 2 Tbs] active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water [105F to 115F, or in other words, warm but not hot enough to burn you]
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour [You can replace 1 ½ to 2 cups of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour if you’d like your bread to be more nutritious but not too heavy.]

Place milk, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in 1 ½ cups warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add lukewarm milk mixture [Tip: if the milk mixture seems like it’s still too hot, you can cool it down by pouring it against the side of the mixer bowl in a thin stream instead of dumping it all at once into the yeast mixture.] Add 4 ½ cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.

Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly sticky to the touch.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in a warm place, free from draft, about an hour or until doubled in bulk [the time it takes depends on your yeast, as well as the temperature in the room].

Punch down dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in greased 8 ½” x 4 ½” x 2 ½” loaf pans. Cover again and let rise again, about an hour or until doubled in bulk. Before placing the loaves in the oven you might want to add something on top. I’m partial to sesame seeds but you might prefer poppy or sunflower seeds or chopped herbs. Just gently brush the tops of the loaves with milk or egg white and sprinkle with your toppings of choice.

Bake at 400F for about 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks. [Tip: the standard test to see whether bread is fully cooked is to tap on the bottom. If it sounds hollow you’re good to go. I recommend using a spoon to avoid burned knuckles.] Try to resist the fresh bread long enough to let it cool down a touch before slicing and slathering with decadent amounts of butter.

You can halve the recipe if you want, although extra dough is ideal to use in recipes such as Tiganopsomo (fried bread) and Wrapped Sandwich Loaf. You can experiment with add-ins too: try adding raisins and cinnamon to the dough for raisin bread, or add herbs and grated cheese. It also freezes well.

Makes 2 loaves

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw
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Sunshine Blogger Award

sunshine blogger award, aspasia s. bissas

Peter Wyn Mosey nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award! Even though sunshine and vampires don’t usually mix, we’ll make an exception this time. Thank you, Peter– for the nomination and your kind words about me 🙂

How this Works

Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog.

• Answer 11 questions the blogger asked you.

• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your blog post.

• Nominate 11 new bloggers & their blogs. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know they received the award [I’ll be honest, I’m not going to do this. The Sunshine Blogger Award Rules and Standards Committee can take it up with me. Hopefully word will find its way to the nominees] and ask your nominees 11 new questions.

I'm a Sunshine Blogger Award winner! Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Peter’s Questions and My Answers

1.If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

I’d love to fly and sing on key (both superpowers, as far as I’m concerned), so I’ll pick a songbird (preferably in an alternate universe where humans treat animals with respect and compassion).

2. What was the first ever creative effort that you remember really being proud of?

I wrote and illustrated a “short story” (it was probably two sentences) when I was very young (can’t remember exactly how old, but under 6). It was about a flower that killed you if you picked it. Clearly, I was honing my literary style right off the bat.

3. If you could choose between true happiness, or a greater creative skills, what would you pick?

Happiness is very tempting, but it’s also very empty. What’s to strive for if you’re already truly happy? Where’s your motivation to grow, learn, improve? In the end, I’d rather have greater creative skills while I keep seeking happiness.

4. Does politics have a place in the arts?

All art is political.

5. What gets you out of bed in the morning?

One of my cats, usually.

6. Where and how do you do most of your writing/ art?

Right now I do about two thirds of my writing on my laptop in the family room and the other third in my head while I’m busy with other things.

7. What famous work do you wish you had created?

Harry Potter. Or pretty much any painting or sculpture because I have no talent for it and I wish I did.

8. Is there anyone in the world that you actually hate?

I wouldn’t say hate, but close, and not an individual but a type of person– the ones that  actively work at making the world worse, usually for their own gain (sometimes because they enjoy it). I also have no use for those that enable them.

9. Where is the furthest you have been from home?

Geographically, Greece. Culturally, I think Cuba.

10. Would you prefer to wake up early, or stay up late?

I do both anyway, so I’d prefer to be able to do it without getting tired.

11. If you could give a new writer who was setting up a blog one piece of advice, what would it be?

Get to know your fellow bloggers 🙂

I'm a sunshine blogger award winner, aspasia s. bissas
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

My Nominees

These 11 blogs represent a sample of the many great sites I follow. I have eclectic tastes, so the list ranges from writing/author blogs, to travel blogs, to food, spirituality, history, environmental, and pop culture. Thanks, everyone, for giving me something to look forward to reading every week!

A Dollop of History

All Wit No Brevity

Annelise Driscoll

Blackwings666

Bon Repos Gites

Cheche Winnie

Gather Victoria

Honor the Gods

In Diane’s Kitchen

Margaret & Neal, Wandering Together

Michael Seidel

Bonus: Alex L. Weston, whose blog has been quiet for a while, but who I wish would start writing again.

I'm a Sunshine Blogger Award Winner, Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Questions to My Nominees

1. What (or who) is inspiring you lately?

2. What’s making you angry?

3. What did you have for breakfast?

4. What creative skill or talent do you wish you had?

5. Do you believe in magic?

6. What fictional character do you relate to?

7. The last book you loved?

8. If you could live anywhere for a year, where would it be?

9. What do you wish would come back in style?

10. A favourite line from a book or movie (I’ll also accept plays, songs, and TV shows)?

11. Who’s your favourite vampire (if you say Dracula, you have to specify which version)?

Feel free to share your answers in the comments even if you’re not a nominee 🙂 If you were nominated, please comment with your link once you’ve posted (I really want to read your answers!)

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Is Blogging Dead?

blog icon information internet
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Short answer: not really.

But it also depends on what you want out of it.

If you spend any time around the internet, you’re bound to come across at least one headline declaring that blogging is dead (those headlines have been around for years at this point). As a writer and long-time blogger (you may have seen my other blogs, Blood Lines and Whimsy Bower), this causes me some anxiety. But is there any truth to the rumours?

dead end road sign
Photo by Dustin Tray on Pexels.com

From my research on the topic, if your aim is to earn a living solely from traditional blogging (that is, written articles on specific topics), you might want to hang on to your day job.

On the other hand, if you’re a writer who wants to share your work (and maybe market your books while you’re at it), carry on. Although traditional blogging might be less popular than it once was, there are still people who prefer to read a post than watch a video (which, ironically, most people watch without sound, so end up reading captions anyway). And while social media is a form of blogging, it doesn’t replace traditional blogs (but it is an excellent companion to them). The fact that most of the material debating the future of blogging is written on blogs should tell you something about their so-called demise.

reach for the and blue moon neon signages
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

If you’re concerned your blog isn’t getting as much of an audience as it should, you can do a few things to help:

  • Promote it on social media. Make sure you’re active on at least a couple of different sites and always let your followers know that you have a new post up (don’t forget to include the link). Use hashtags to help a wider audience find you.
  • Be part of the community. If your blog is on a site like WordPress, find other blogs on that site and make sure to follow, like, and comment. That will help bring fellow community members to your blog too.
  • Post regularly. It can be once a day or once a month, but keep your blog active. Posting on a regular schedule gives readers something to look forward to.
  • Try a new type of post. Don’t feel you have to switch over entirely (especially if you’re a writer), but if you can manage the occasional voice or video post, it keeps things interesting. Or switch up the type of posts you do (if you’re usually word heavy, try a photo post).
  • Don’t write just what you want–think about what your audience might be interested in and give them a reason to engage with your blog.
  • Don’t try too hard. Imitating other successful bloggers or trying to follow a formula are both great ways to fail. The idea of “being authentic” is clichéd, but it’s also valid. Not everyone will like you as you are, but no one will like you if you try to be someone else (and you won’t be happy with what you produce, either).

Humans love variety–that’s why we don’t eat the same meal three times a day or read a single book repeatedly. And that’s why blogging won’t die. Even as blogs take on new forms, traditional blogs will always have an audience.

What do you think–does blogging have a future? What do you do to make your blog stand out? Let me know in the comments (and don’t forget to like and share)…

Further Reading:

Blogging Isn’t Dead but Old-School Blogging Is Definitely Dying

Is Blogging Finally Dead?

Are Blogs Dead? 5 Reasons Why the Internet Says Yes and We Say No

Are Blogs Dead in 2018?

Blogging Is Dead (Again)