In the past, I’ve looked at bread baking as something that was optional, recreational. I’ve played with the much-lauded No-Knead Bread technique. I’ve baking (and eaten) more loaves of quick, sweetened breads than I care to count. And yet, I’ve never really considered the fact that I could bake the type of bread I like to eat regularly with my own hands and oven.
It’s sort of a strange disconnect, but truly, I had it in my head that baking bread that required kneading and making it at all healthy was impossible. So I played with frivolous breads, all the while, buying my favorite whole wheat sandwich and toasting bread at Trader Joe’s.
Yesterday, I woke up to a snowstorm and a work voicemail saying that the office was closed. With an unexcepted free day and kitchen almost entirely devoid of bread, I decided to see if I could make something similar to my favorite toasting bread. Looking around for a recipe, I settled on this one from The Frugal Girl, which she has adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.
And now, I have no idea what was preventing me from doing this. It was incredibly easy (granted, I’m pretty comfortable with yeast, so take this “incredibly easy” rating with a grain of experiential salt). I mixed the dough in my Kitchen-Aid and hand-kneaded for about ten minutes. The dough was pretty sticky, but with the help of the bench scrapper and some extra flour for dusting, it kneaded into a supple, stretchy ball quickly.
In recent days, I’ve been trying to buy less and make more through canning, making my own yogurt and generally cooking more from scratch (I’ve gotten pretty adept at pizza in recent days). I do this in part because I want to have more control what’s in my food and also because I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of packaging I consume. Scott thinks that I sometimes take this to an extreme (like when I take a plastic container to a restaurant when I know we’re going to have leftovers), but mostly, he goes along with it.
I’m hoping to make this utilitarian bread part of my homemade, no packaging effort!
I loooove homemade bread, and now I’m drooling. Thanks. 😛
Looks good! We’ve been making all of our bread for almost two years now. Nathan does most of it, but we take turns depending on who happens to be home the day we run out of the last week’s loaf. We do two loaves a week, always one white, though we vary the other loaf (sometimes wheat, sometimes cinnamon raisin, etc.). It is as easy as you said, and so much better than store-bought bread! Plus it makes the house smell delicious on baking day.
Traditional kneading techniques give you much more control over how you’ll bread will turn out – however, we’ve found that using our breadmaker takes a “pretty easy” task and makes it “drop dead simple”.
I love how winter forces us to do things that we end up loving to do and may not have even known it.
That looks magnificent. Homemade bread is just so satisfying, and I agree with Kirsten – you can’t beat the smell.
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Ohh, your loaves look so great! You should be very proud of those. 🙂