I used to say that bread kneading by hand was a great way to vent stress and anxiety after a long day at the computer. But I have just learned something very important: watching your brand new KitchenAid stand mixer knead that same dough can be just as, if not more, cathartic. After years of insisting that this appliance was just a pricey gadget I could get along without, we have become fast friends and I suspect are unlikely to part ways anytime soon.

Anxious to get things swirling, I mixed up a starter for my usual King Arthur French Baguettes before heading to bed last night. On reflection, however, this recipe didn’t seem quite difficult enough to christen the new arrival. Did I recall a bread recipe that required kneading until “your upper arms are strapless gown-ready”? I did. Unable to waste my already-started starter,  New York Deli Rye was simply added to the production docket.

Though I’d never tried out the rye recipe before, the baguettes have been made in this kitchen a few times already. This batch, however, was one of the best I’ve ever turned out. Perhaps less exhausted by the process than normal, I even felt that my shaping and baking were more professional. The spritzing and slashing and even the whole “ice in the cast iron under the loaves” were all accomplished. (In the case of the slashing of my dear baguettes, accomplished poorly, but I’ll keep practicing. When I did the rye, I fared a bit better. I found that it really helps matters to use just the very tip of a razor and say “aaaaand slash” aloud as you work.)

I don’t think the French need be jealous, but the New Yorkers may have something to fear over here in Baltimore. This is some seriously amazing rye bread. I did have to supplement the machine knead with a little old-fashioned counter work to get the dough a bit less sticky (one whole minute!), but I am quite confident that without a mechanical friend to lend a hand, we would never have gotten close.

Smelling pleasantly of yeasty bread, my kitchen is both toasty and full of potential toast! Now then, what can we mix next?