Part of my philosophy on life has to do with making things myself-especially when it comes to food–especially when it comes to that staff of life: BREAD. Store bought bread has it’s place. It’s good for making sandwiches, but that’s about it. It’s so stuffed full of air bubbles, there’s nothing to it. You need to eat half the loaf to eat your fill. Plus I just don’t trust food that never goes bad. I mean, store bought bread lasts FOREVER. It’s a little creepy.
My mother always made great homemade muffins and biscuits when we were growing up, and as I got older, I took over the baking duties (of my own accord). But I never got into yeast breads. They seemed so fussy, so dense, and frankly, kind of boring.
My cousin was the first one to really open my eyes to the deliciousness of homemade yeast bread. She was living near us for about a year, and she came over often for Sunday dinner (lunch). She would make bread (if we were lucky), and I would make dinner. Her breads were lovely. My favorite was this rosemary bread that she would braid.
But I didn’t get into making my own bread until I found a recipe in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the newspaper that I happened to be delivering at the time. There was an article about a new recipe book out called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. And then it had a basic bread recipe-a recipe that required no kneading, no fancy ingredients, no fat, no dairy or eggs, just flour, water, yeast, and salt. It sounded like genius to me, so I decided to give it a shot.
One taste had me hooked. It fluffed up nicely. It had a nice crispy crust. Dipped in olive oil and spices it was just heavenly. From there I used that recipe to make raisin bread, sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, and pita bread. When I lived in my van (with no oven), I took the dough and fried it in a little bit of oil in a pan.
So here’s the recipe, though by now, it’s all over the internet.
6.5 cups of flour (I use 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2.5 cups white whole wheat flour, and 2 cups of white)
3 cups of hot water,
stir 1.5 tablespoons of active dry yeast, and 1.5 tablespoons of kosher salt into the water. Then mix your flour in. If you have a stand mixer, this is super easy. If you are mixing by hand, it might take you another minute. After it’s all mixed together, make it into a ball, and put it in an oiled bowl to rise.
Let it rise for around 1 hour to 1.5 hours. Then form it into loaves, and let it rise for another 30-40 minutes while your oven heats up to 450 degrees. Bake it until it’s golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
I make bread once a week on Tuesdays when we have soup. I make one loaf of regular and one loaf of raisin bread. Since there are only 2 of us, after the first day, I slice up the breads and freeze them in a zip lock bag. Then they stay fresh until we want to eat them. Just pop a slice in the toaster oven, and you have fresh bread!
Nothing beats the way your house smells when the bread comes out of the oven, unless it’s the taste that fills your mouth on that first bite.
-disclaimer: making your own bread might carry with it the risk of eating too much of it and growing big and round. 🙂