I love to bake bread… specifically yeast breads. When I was a child, my mother made the most amazing cinnamon rolls. About the time I was 10 or 11 years old, I was determined to learn how to make them myself. My mother, wonderful woman that she is, took the time to teach me. Thus began a lifelong love affair with bread baking. In our home, we make all of our sandwich bread and many other bread products as well.
There are a number of reasons I can think of for baking your own bread.
It saves money. I can bake a loaf of bread using high quality ingredients for about 1/2 the cost of the least expensive loaf of bread from the grocery store.
It saves time. This won’t be true for everyone, but as a stay at home mom, I’m here at home to oversee the process of baking bread…. It takes me less time to make a loaf of bread than it would take to run to the store to buy one.
There is no denying the enjoyment of freshly baked bread. The aroma of bread baking is intoxicating. And a slice of fresh, warm bread with butter is heavenly. I like to give gifts of homemade bread. It is always well received. When ever I bring a meal to a new mom or someone going through a rough time, I try to include homemade bread. From the feedback I receive, I have come to believe that homemade bread is truly comforting.
I like that I have total control of the ingredients in my bread. Only want to use organic products? No problem. Avoiding dairy? No problem. Need extra fiber? No problem.
It’s a great way to experiment with new flavors and textures. Dense and chewy to soft and fluffy, sweet to spicy to savory. All are possible.
Still, in spite of these benefits, many people have never tried baking bread. There are a couple of reasons I’ve heard expressed over and over. One is time. It’s true. Bread baking start to finish takes between 1.5-3 hours depending on a variety of factors. However, this is NOT 1.5-3 hours of work. There is a difference. It is about 20 minutes total of hands on work broken into 3-4 smaller chunks of time with the rest of the time being rising time and baking time. This is totally doable for a busy mom.
Another concern is that bread baking is complicated or exacting. Not true. There is a learning curve with anything, but now with all the tutorials available online you can have your own personal teacher available at your beck and call. Bread dough is extremely forgiving. Take the time to learn what your dough should look and feel like. Everything else will fall into place. Along with this is just the uncertainty of the process. That is what I aim to teach today as I show you the process of making…..
2 1/2 C warm water (around 105° F)
4 t sugar
5 t yeast (I prefer SAF brand found at Smart and Final)
Let sit 5-10 minutes or until bubbly.
Knead for 6-8 minutes in a Kitchen Aid or similar mixer (I use a Bosch Universal) or 8-10 minutes by hand.
After kneading. Notice the texture difference in the dough between this picture and the previous one.
Divide dough in half. Put dough on floured surface and let rest for 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting, grease a French bread pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. If you don’t have a French bread pan, just use a 9×13 cake pan and lay your loaves side by side. The shape will be different but it will still taste yummy.
Shape into French bread shape. I do this by rolling out each ball of dough until flattened then rolling it up and tucking in the ends. There is not really a right or wrong way to shape. Just what works for you.
If you divide the recipe in half and make a single loaf, you can use a bread machine to knead the dough and then remove it to bake in the traditional oven.
Above all, enjoy the process. And, of course, the finished product.