This is much better in real life than in photos, but this is the best I can do. While I wrote the post previous to this one, my bread was baking in the oven. I have just taken it out, and had to show you what I did this time! I'm so excited! This is about the best it's been.
The last several times I've baked bread, they have turned out great. Almost perfect! I had a lot of trouble a couple of months ago in that it would not rise evenly for me. But I think I've discovered the secret now -- although I really don't know what I'm doing differently -- and the last few have been just wonderful.
I usually just make a round loaf and let it sit on the pan that way, but today, I decided to place this one in a loaf pan. It rose beautifully, no more cracks in the surface, and baked just right. Sometimes they get a little darker than this one, but I was careful to watch the timing.
It's still warm over there -- that first slice has already vanished -- and I have to try a few slices, just to be sure it's done all the way through! Sometimes the centre might not be baked as nicely as the rest, you know! :-)
This one was made with a little bit of cranberry, and I always add a little bit of sauerkraut to my breads. You can't really taste it at all -- it sort of disappears -- but I think it helps in the rising. At least, since I've started adding it to my breads, I've never had an failures! So I'm sticking with this method.
I only baked one loaf, because that will do for me for a few days. I like it fresh. I will bake another early next week... not sure what I will add to it then. I like to try different things. I may throw in some fruits in the next one.. just for some variety, and because I have some.
But right now, I have to go and test another slice... maybe with some of my real strawberry jam this time. You know, you have to try it all different ways to see what works and what doesn't!
PS: I should add that this cloth was woven by me several years ago. It was meant for a sale, but I made a treadling error about a quarter from the end... so I kept it. It sat in a drawer for many years, but I have started using it the last couple years. I really like it, and am planning on making another one. I am afraid I am going to stain this one, so I need to be careful what I do with it! It is a regular waffle weave in cotton.