Baking Bread

Bread Cooking Baking

Image above is not my bread, because I’ve eaten most of it already…

Bread is one of the staples of my diet. Always has been, always will be. Dad and I would make sandwiches together for our lunches. We had garlic bread (or garlic toast) with dinner probably once a week at least. There have been days when I’ve eaten plain bread for meals (grad school can be hairy).

My grandmother used to make her own bread. She had a bread machine. I’m honestly not sure what a bread machine does, though I imagine it makes dough rise (or proof) faster. But between my love of bread and watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, I decided to make my own bread.

Well, it turns out that making bread is 1) pretty freaking easy 2) super delicious and 3) cheap. Like, cheaper than buying bread from the store cheap. Why have I never done this before?

 

As always, I started with my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

5 ¾ – 6 ¼ cups of flour (can be white flour or bread flour. Wheat flour is a bit different)

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp salt

1 packet of yeast

2 ¼ cups milk

Oil

Put 2 ¼ cups flour in a bowl with the yeast. Heat up the milk, salt, sugar, and butter in a pan until ~160° (this is to activate the yeast – too hot will kill it and too cold will cause your bread to not rise) [I think I messed this up]. Pour in the liquid and mix it thoroughly, then slowly add the remaining flour. The recipe says to stir with a wooden spoon, but I was able to add 2 cups of flour with my KitchenAid Stand Mixer before the dough got thick enough to warrant using manpower. Mix it all up until the dough is sticky.

Pour it out on a “lightly” floured surface. In reality, flour the crap out of it. The dough is super sticky. Kneed the dough until it gets stiff, then put it in an oiled bowl (turn the dough to get it all oiled up) and let it sit for an hour, covered.

Punch it down, and form into two halves. Let rise another 10 minutes.

Finally, form the dough into nice loaf shapes [I definitely messed this up] and put in 2 greased 8x4x4 inch pans.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap it.

For my first time, I think they turned out okay. They taste really good, though I’m sure Paul Hollywood would say “the crumb is only so so.” I don’t have a cooking thermometer (I’m hoping to get one for the holidays), so I think my milk mixture was too low temperature to really activate the yeast (mistake 1). And I didn’t really understand the directions about shaping the dough properly, so the loaves each have massive splits in them (mistake 2). They taste fine, but they don’t look pretty.

And after doing a bit of research, it’s actually cheaper to bake your own bread than it is to buy it at the store. Like, significantly cheaper (Here, here, and here and some calculations). Of course, there’s the convenience factor. The store is obviously much easier. But we go through at least a loaf of bread a week, sometimes two. If I can save a dollar or $1.50 per loaf, that’s somewhere between $50 and $150 a year (give or take). Plus, there’s that level of satisfaction that comes from doing something yourself.

And making bread comes with the built-in stress relief of kneading the dough! Wins all around!

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