Friday, May 13, 2011

Simple Suggestion #4 of 100... Learn to bake bread

I know, I know. It's a lot easier to go to the store and buy a loaf. But there's just something soul-satisfying about the process of baking my own bread. Start by making a "sponge" with that rich yeasty smelling flour mixture, and then knead in more flour until there's a wonderful elastic dough. Put it in a slightly warm oven, let it rise and punch it down, then, depending on what kind of bread I'm making, let it rise again, or form it into buns or loaves. I'm something of a sensate, and love to work with the dough, feeling its weight and goodness in my hands as I create the conditions for deliciousness. The people who invented those automatic bread makers that used to be all the rage (but are now collecting dust for a lot of folks) have nothing on the sheer enjoyment of starting from scratch and working with your hands. And the smell when it bakes! I think heaven will smell like that.

I would like to share my favourite bread recipe, from Doris Janzen Longacre's More-with-Less Cookbook (mine is from the thirty-sixth printing, dated August 1988 -- I bought a used copy through Of course, I don't want to break any copyright laws... so all I can do is suggest that you check your library for it, and check the index for the oatmeal bread recipe. It starts with something like porridge as a sponge, (oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, mmmmm) but it tastes better than porridge once it's baked. It's my favourite toast of all time.

I'll admit that I was slow to come to bread baking fandom, but now I'm hooked. I love the process, start to finish, and using wholesome ingredients is a plus. Admittedly, it's more time consuming than going to the grocery store, but I've never tasted a store bought loaf that comes close to the flavour of bread I make myself. Admittedly, that might have something to do with the effort required. Of course, I'm biased toward self-reliance and honouring the time it takes to do something well or make something worthwhile. Bread fits those categories to a T. Or should I say, B?

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? See here.

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