I love walking past the bakery in the early morning, smelling those wonderful fresh-baked bread aromas. It is carb heaven! But bakery bread is expensive, supermarket bread is limp and unexciting, and I didn't know how to DIY... until recently.
I'm happy to say I've hit my straps with this breadmaking business. I wouldn't say I'm a master baker (far from it!) but I'm turning out reliably edible loaves and rolls. As my mate reminded me yesterday, a bread-making apprenticeship takes a full three years, so getting decent bread after a few weeks 'aint bad.
Here's why I bake my own bread:
1) It's cheap! I haven't done a detailed price comparison, but the good bread we used to buy is about $5 a loaf, and now I am turning out a replacement for about $1.
2) It's quick. Sure, it takes time to rise, but that doesn't need supervision. I probably spend around five minutes of my actual time making the bread from start to finish. Since I used to make a trip to the shops once a week just to top up our bread, this is actually saving me time. (This only works because I'm home a lot. If I worked away from home I think it would be much easier to buy.)
3) It's flexible. Burgers for dinner? Make rolls... and why not make kid sized ones for the littlies and some chunky ones for mum and dad? Peanut doesn't like sesame seeds? No worries, only seed half the loaf. And don't get me started on the stuff you can add TO the bread. (Seriously, don't, we'd be here for hours.)
4) It's healthy. I know what's in it, and what's not.
Speaking of what's in it, I thought I would share my recipe here, now that I've tweaked it into submission:
4 cups of bakers flour
1.5 teaspoons of yeast
1.5 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 to 2 cups of warm water.
Adding the water is the tricky bit, it's flour and weather dependent. It took a while to learn how the dough was supposed to look.
I make my bread in a KitchenAid mixer, then oven bake. One massive downside to moving house so often is having to learn the peculiarities of a new oven. (My oven three houses ago turned out PERFECT pork crackling, but I haven't been able to make it properly since. I yearn for that oven every single time I make a Sunday roast. Clearly my life is a miasma of hardship.) My current oven is blissfully ignorant of the expected convention of the dial temperature correlating with actual interior cooking temperature. It is a petulant thing, full of hot spots and cold spots and damn it, the more I write about it the more I want to take to it with a baseball bat. But it can make bread.
And now here's a bit of encouragement - if you are new to this bread making business and you get the first few quite wrong, keep on trying. Don't be discouraged if your first couple are a bit mushy or could be mistaken for door-stops. It won't take long before you get the hang of it.
I think the next step for me is to keep an eye out for some decent bread tins, so I can make nicer loaves, and more than one at a time.
Now, gentle reader, here is my question for the day - If you make bread, how much do you knead yours? Gently and quickly, or do you beat it into submission like I want to beat my oven?