Ain’t Nothing Like Home Baked Bread

Does anyone NOT like fresh warm bread? There are probably a lot of non-carb eaters who would say of course they don’t, but they’re lying. Life without bread is sad!! Bread is a staple in most diets, even if the form it takes varies. Bread is synonymous with eating; in fact the phrase “break bread” means to share a meal together. So bread is an important part of culture and community.   When we were first married, one of my first baking adventures was making bread. (You can read about that here) Hubbins liked it so much that he decreed that I should never buy bread again, which wasn’t too terribly hard a task to live up to, especially because we don’t eat all that much bread. But since being pregnant, I haven’t baked bread in seven months, and we’ve been missing it.

So today was gloomy and I was making beans (I’ll post a recipe for them some other time) and I decided we needed some yummy fresh bread to go with them. The recipe that  I have settled on is right off the Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour bag. Bob’s is made in Oregon and is sold in all our local grocery stores, but you can also get it here. The recipe is pretty simple, especially if you have a mixer. It makes two yummy loaves, and if you don’t eat all that much bread at a time, you can freeze one for later.

I started to think about the history of baking bread, and my homemaking hero, Laura Ingalls. (I’m planning a longer post about her for another time as well) I have a very interesting book called The Little House Cookbook. The copy I have is from 1979, and some of the measurements and ingredients have changed over the years. However it contains a lot of interesting commentary about cooking methods of the Little House times,  and modified recipes we could still make today. For instance, there’s a whole section about breads. Did you know? The reason that baking only happened once a week was because it was too much effort to have a hot enough fire every day! (Little House in the Big Woods outlines Ma’s chores for the week, and if you’ve never read the Little House series as an adult, I highly recommend it! Baking happened on Saturday, if you’re wondering) Reading over the steps for baking bread, I found that they don’t vary all that much from my Bob’s recipe. You need yeast, liquid, sweetener, salt, and flour. While I knead my dough with a dough hook, kneading and forming into loaves is one of the best parts, but if I’m supposed to knead 10 minutes with a mixer, can you imagine doing that by hand? The book mentions that you knead.. I mean need… (heh puns) to use a thigh-high table or stand on a stool so as to get your back into it. I’m considering trying it, but the mixer is so easy!

There are bread machines too, that do everything for you, but there is a simple joy in making my own bread, even if I do use the convenience of the Kitchen Aid to mix it for me. Our bread has honey and milk, and the whole wheat flour makes it rustic and hearty. It’s not all that expensive to make, and if you compare the cost of an artisan loaf I’m sure you’re way ahead. (If you’re truly adventurous, you can try making your own yeast! There’s a detailed description how to do it in this book) So give it a try. Make your own bread! It’s empowering and delicious.  Serve it warm with some melty butter.. yummmmy. I think I’ll go cut a piece now.

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