Yeast Bread and schedule balancing

Bread was one of those things that my mother refused to make without the aid of a bread machine. But hand making bread was right out. And although I do not fear the bread, I tend to think of it as being harder than it really is.

Part of the reason I don't fear bread baking is because I have studied up on the techniques and understand the basics of the physical chemistry of bread. Gluten and I are good friends, and we pal around on the weekends and go on fishing trips together. We invite yeast along*, occasionally with some sugar and butter or similar, and a good time is had by all.

Perhaps a bigger part of why I don't fear baking bread is because I have a stand mixer with a dough hook, and consequently don't have to knead by hand. Those of you who are hand-kneaders may scoff at me (I see you back there), but it removes a decent amount of the work and active time to the baking process.

I think the reason that I do have a little trepidation for making bread is because I'm never really convinced that rising and proofing are attention-free on my part. There's always a bit of me that has to check up on it from time to time to see if it's achieved the proper amount of lift, and I tend to be on its timetable rather than it being on mine. Some of this is because I'm a project manager, and so am duty-bound to keep an eye on the progress of others.

Still, I am making bread. Ideally, I will work it into my daily routine, along with my day job, writing for my various blogs and publications, exercise, housework, and spending time with my lovely wife. Most of that's easy, but the day job makes it trickier, because it's this big 8 or so hour chunk of time in the day where it will take 30 minutes of driving if I want to make adjustments to the bread.

The King Arthur Cookbook suggests that I can learn to play with the amount of yeast in my bread recipes, which will fine-tune rising time. Perhaps that will be my secret. Perhaps I will manage something with sponges, or refrigerating dough overnight, or similar.

So I ask you, my readers: How do you juggle a full-time job and regular bread baking?


*- Yeast, incidentally, constantly makes flatulence jokes and giggles. It's not my thing, but he brings the booze as well, so what can ya do?