Along with wanting to feed my family healthier food the financial considerations in buying pre-made items is always a factor in my shopping excursions. While I was challenging myself with the 10-day Real Food Challenge I discovered that the bread we buy is FILLED with additives! Yuck. I decided, in a spurt of renewed homemaker vigor that I should again attempt bread making.
I say “again” because back when the twins were new (and I was insane) I had a few attempts at making bread. I was somewhat successful and discovered the therapeutic world of bread making. I enjoyed kneading and watching the bread rise but after a few loaves of white bread I moved to wheat bread (my husband is diabetic and we need to make each carb count) which is a little less forgiving. My breads were dense and less than delicious and the kneading as giving me serious muscle aches! I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong but I did know the results weren’t worth the effort I was putting in to say nothing of the TIME I was spending on baking bread instead of taking care of my home and my kids. So I gave up baking in favor of cooking, something I do much better anyway!
Lately Christian and I have been doing a lot of talking and thinking about our future homestead. Not just a new house but an actual homestead where we try to produce as much of our own food and energy as possible–a self-sustaining home. That means buying as little pre-made food as possible. Whole foods are healthier and cheaper and they come with a sense of satisfaction you can’t get by heating up a frozen pizza! I’d admit I got some inspiration from the stack of library books I got on homesteading, including Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich. Amidst her single life of handmade psuedo-farm-girling she gives some good pointers and ideas, including a recipe for white bread from scratch. The thing I liked about this recipe was she wrote it out in narrative form, really giving you details about each step. Having attempted many “normal” bread recipes I appreciated all the extra help I was getting and with Jenna’s help I discovered what I’ve been doing wrong all these years: I haven’t been letting my yeast activate enough.
Oh, so simple and yet so important! When you make bread you are supposed to start by getting hot water (I’ve read temperatures ranging from 100 degrees to 120 degrees farenheit) and then letting it sit for AT LEAST FIVE MINUTES. Okay, I’ve read that before but I’m not the most patient person on earth so it’s, um, possible that I’ve been cutting that time a little short. It’s also entirely possible that in my original bread-making ardour I may have inadvertently purchased old or ineffective yeast. Either way I never saw the froth I wait to see every time I make dough now!
So, I’ve tried a couple different recipes but here is one I really liked. I found in on Allrecipes (which, along with Epicurious, is my go-to recipe finding site!), the author calls it a kid-friendly wheat bread: my kind of bread! As for the answer to my original question: Do I have time for this?
As of right now I’ve made only two different batches of bread (white and wheat) in addition to some much better pizza dough. Ya know what? It’s a lot easier to knead dough that properly activated yeast! I have big plans for a honey wheat bread in the shape of a turkey for thanksgiving… maybe I’ll try making a pumpkin one first for Halloween!
Bread recipes are forthcoming once I have my honey wheat bread perfected! I’ll even toss you the white bread recipe I started with (from Jenna Woginrich’s book) to help you get started.