I apologize in advance for the shortness of this post. For whatever reason, I have a lurking headache and and my body is screaming for an early bedtime. Nevertheless, I wanted to share an amazing discovery I made before I succumb to the lure of the blankets.
Wait for it... wait for it...
Longer kneading = better bread!
I know, I know... everyone has taught me for years and years that you have to knead bread to develop the gluten. But I fell into the trap of thinking that if I used my Bosch mixer, that I could skimp on that step. It cleaned the inside of the bowl, so it's done. That sort of thing. I even used dough enhancer to feed my laziness. Well, a week or two ago I realized that maybe my laziness is why I get so many crumbs when I cut bread, and why I can never cut it very thin. Novel idea, right? (Sometimes I can be incredibly dense to these details if I don't want to notice them.) So I did an experiment and forced myself to let the Bosch beat my dough into submission for an extra 5 or 6 minutes.
It made a huge difference. I'm not kidding. I have effectively rediscovered the wheel of bread making. I don't even need dough enhancer anymore (which is good, since I'm nearly out). I just need a book on hand to read for a few extra minutes while I hold the Bosch and prevent it from walking off the counter as it beats that dough into submission.
So the moral of the story is: don't be lazy, and sometimes (in baking and in real life) a little extra effort makes a big difference inside, even if the outward appearance looks exactly the same.