Homemade bread - a little bit of soul food
I have always thought that making your own bread is the kitchen equivalent of living off-grid. Not only does it feel like the ultimate in self sufficiency, there is great satisfaction in creating something so fundamental with our own hands. And few things are more delicious or comforting than a slice of still-warm bread spread with a bit of butter. If you still need convincing to give it a try there are other reasons to consider making your own bread, especially if you eat it a lot.
You may have noticed that much regular grocery store bread can sit on the counter a very long time without a hint of mould. You might also have noticed that the ingredient list for bought bread is a lot longer than the traditional water, flour, yeast and salt. A variety of engineered sugars and preservatives have turned your average loaf of bread into an immortal foodstuff. Even the wholesome-looking loaves at in-store bakeries can be packed full of a dozen or more additives.
Bread should be a very nutritional food. After all, stone ground flour has a substantial protein content, B vitamins and lots of fibre. But unless your bread says 100% whole grain chances are it’s made from refined white flour that nutritionally isn’t much different, or better, than white sugar.
Independent bakeries usually have healthier bread, especially if they bake from scratch with stone ground flour (look for the Speerville Flour Mill sign or ask if they use Speerville flour, or another stone ground product).
I dislike processed foods loaded with additives and rarely get to independent bakeries so make a lot of bread. It’s one of those things that, once you’re in the habit doesn’t seem like a big deal. But I know for most the idea of making your own bread can be as daunting as it is appealing.
Making bread the traditional way, that is. Happily I recently came across a method for making homemade bread that is as simple as baking cookies. It’s from the book titled “Artisan bread in five minutes a day”, a practical, easy-to-follow guide to making traditional loaves in a non-traditional way: no proofing the yeast, no kneading, no punching down. While some if the tasks of traditional bread making are gratifying in their own way, you need time to take pleasure in the process.
This five-minute method is simple: Mix up the dough (yeast, salt, flour and water), leave it in the fridge for up to 10 days. To make your bread, clip off a grapefruit-sized clump of dough, shape it into to a ball, sit it on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes then bake it for about half an hour. There are many variations but the principle of simplicity is always the same.
If making homemade bread is on your bucket list, or if you’d simply like to be more self sufficient, search out this book.