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
Don’t forget to download your FREE copies…

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, then order Love Lies Bleeding from an independent bookshop and support small businesses when they need it most. Click here and scroll down for the full list of available online shops.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Kehn Hermano on Pexels.com

How is everyone holding up? It’s funny how as soon as you know you shouldn’t do something, you suddenly want to do it. As an introvert, self isolation isn’t too far from how I live anyway, but now that I know I shouldn’t leave the house– well, the world outside my door suddenly seems so much more enticing (not to worry– I’m staying home).

I’m keeping busy with reading (The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett), writing/editing, playing games, packing (even though the move is on hold until…?), crocheting, and spending way too much time on Netflix and YouTube. What are you doing to entertain yourself?

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book tag, so I grabbed this one from A Geek Girl’s Guide. Feel free to answer the questions in the comments below, or leave a link to your own post…

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

1. E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical books for collecting, but an e-reader for reading. (I love physical books but my strained eyes like having the option of increasing the font size, and my anxiety likes not having to worry about accidentally bending covers, spilling on pages, or cracking spines.)

2. Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback for reading, hardback for collecting.

3. Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online. I love browsing in an actual bookstore, but they can also be overwhelming.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

4. Trilogies or Series?

Don’t care as long as the story is still good.

5. Heroes or Villains?

A complicated hero.

6. A book you want everyone to read?

Mine, of course. Did I mention that Love Lies Bleeding is available free for the first time? Click on the picture or go here for more info.

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

7. Recommend an underrated book?

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes or Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen.

8. The last book you finished

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett.

9. The Last Book You Bought?

Mort by Terry Pratchett.

10. Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

Probably another book.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

11. Used Books: Yes or No?

Definitely.

12. Top Three Favourite Genres?

Fantasy (all sub genres), Magical Realism, Historical (really, it would be easier to list the genres I don’t like).

13. Borrow or Buy?

Mostly buy.

14. Characters or Plot?

Generally, I prefer characters.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

15. Long or Short Books?

Long.

16. Long or Short Chapters?

Short (or long ones with breaks).

17. Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

The Stranger (Albert Camus), Fifth Business (Robertson Davies), Horton Hears a Who (Dr. Seuss).

18. Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?

Not sure if I’m supposed to give specific titles or just a general type of book, but the last book that made me cry was Elizabeth the Queen by Alison Weir. The last one that made me laugh was The Colour of Magic.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

19. Our World or Fictional Worlds?

A fictionalized (or past) version of our world.

20. Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Not for me (listening is too passive– I end up zoning out).

21. Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Isn’t that the entire point of covers? Although a beautiful cover can definitely contain a terrible book.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Bruno Massao on Pexels.com

22. Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

Movie (they have better production values and shows start taking liberties with the story and characters once they’ve covered the source material– or even when they haven’t).

23. A Movie or TV Show You Preferred to its Book?

The Princess Bride (if I’d read the book first, I’d never have watched the movie).

24. Series or Standalones?

If it’s a great story that can’t be fully told in one book, then a series is great.

 

What do you think? What movie did you prefer to the book? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
–Stephen Colbert

 

A reminder that all my ebooks are currently FREE. Lose touch with reality for a while…

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

 

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

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, then order Love Lies Bleeding from an independent bookshop and support small businesses when they need it most. Click here and scroll down for the full list of available online shops.

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

A Corona of Bees

A Corona of Bees, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have melissophobia– the fear of bees. I’ve suffered this intense fear since I was 3 or 4 years old, when a bumblebee chased me and wouldn’t leave me alone (eventually my sister told me to stand still, which I did, and the bee flew away, but the damage was done). If I see a bee now I keep my distance. If it’s flying near me I instinctively freeze in terror. If I can get inside I’ll walk as fast as I can without “provoking” it, all the while too afraid to look back to see if it’s following. If one gets in the house, I’ll hide in the farthest room with a door and wait until someone can come take care of it. The first time I realized I was having a panic attack was when I heard buzzing in the living room curtains (it turned out to be a fly). Basically, I react to bees the way other people react to axe murderers. My logical mind loves bees: they pollinate flowers; make delicious honey; and are symbols of orderliness, productivity, and a peaceful garden. But phobias aren’t logical, and on a deeper, baser, level within me, bees are the incarnation of danger and chaos. Even looking at the photo at the top of my post makes my stomach twist with anxiety.

Last night I had a nightmare about bees that wasn’t about bees at all.

It started when one of my cousins pointed out a swarm of bees in a tree. I knew we had to get out of there, so I started running. But my SO said we should find somewhere quiet to hide and let them pass us by. When I saw bees overtaking me as I ran, I knew he was right. I tried hiding.

The next thing I knew, my scalp was crawling (in the dream I could actually feel the physical sensations) and I heard buzzing. I asked my SO if they were on me and he said he would go get help. While I waited for what seemed like ages I tried to think of a way to get them off me. I kept moving near flowers, hoping they’d prefer the blossoms to me. But nothing I did helped, and they started moving down. They clustered around my eyes, ears, and mouth. They crawled down my neck and settled on my chest.

Suddenly my mom was there, smiling. My mom died 9 years ago, but has been visiting my dreams lately. She saw I was in distress (and I really was, having been crawling with bees in the dream for what seemed like hours) and took charge. Suddenly people were there trying to help. I woke up before the bees were removed, but the dream ended on a hopeful note, and I was confident the situation would get resolved.

I was covered in bees, but this was a dream about my anxieties over coronavirus (COVID-19).

The swarm of bees represents the virus: a massive danger off to the side that I didn’t immediately notice and then couldn’t get away from. Trying to hide from the bees is my self isolation (I have an underlying condition, so I need to avoid people as much as possible right now). Every time I hear the word “coronavirus” I’m reminded that corona means crown, so of course the bees started in my hair. Then they moved to my face, which is the area we’re constantly warned not to touch. From there to my chest, the part of the body the virus attacks. I hope the appearance of my mom means I’m being watched over. The hopeful note at the end gives me a little hope in real life too.

These are scary times. Nightmares are coming to life and threatening us all. But there’s still hope. Sometimes you can’t avoid being stung, but staying calm will help you get through it. And if you’re lucky, there’s still flowers and honey in the end.

A Corona of Bees, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Because so many people are stuck at home right now I’ve decided to make the ebook of Love Lies Bleeding free for the next few weeks. Books can help us get through the worst situations, and hopefully my books can help you.

Get Them Free

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, then order Love Lies Bleeding from an independent bookshop and support small businesses when they need it most. Click here and scroll down for the full list of available online shops.

Stay healthy ♥

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

 

Last Chance: Read an Ebook Week Sale

Read an Ebook Week at Smashwords! Get Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas for 50% Off...

Smashwords’ 11th Annual Read An Ebook Sale ends tonight. It’s your last chance to get Love Lies Bleeding for only $1.50 (Tooth & Claw and Blood Magic are FREE).

Top 3 Reasons to Get Love Lies Bleeding Now

3. Support hard-working authors by buying, reading, and reviewing their books.

2. Love Lies Bleeding has great reviews. Check them out here, here, and here.

1. Where else can you be entertained for hours for only $1.50?

 

Get Love Lies Bleeding here.

Read an Ebook Week Sale: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, and Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas

Read an Ebook Week Sale: Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas is 50% Off

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas