Welcome to the first instalment of Food Friday! Here I will be putting forth Earth friendly ideas about food. This will include recipes and new things I am choosing to feed my family.
Y’know when you walk into or nearby a bakery, and the smell of freshly baked bread is beautiful and overwhelming and makes you want to grab the nearest cinnamon bun, bagel or croissant and stuff it into your face?
Ya, that was my house this week.
I decided to try my hand at baking my own bread. I had never baked a loaf in my life. The closest thing I got to kneading dough was making little playdough creatures with my kids. I got a rolling pin as a gift for my wedding and had used it about 4 times, to make cookies only. Bread was something that I bought, in a nice little bag at the grocery store.
So why bread? Well I thought first of all, I can control the ingredients that go into it. Grocery store bread has preservatives, even if it is baked in store. So if I wanted to make bread out of organic locally sourced flour I could do that. Secondly, I wanted to get back to basics. My husband’s grandmother used to bake bread every single day for her 8 children. Bread has been referred to as the staff of live, giving sustenance and nourishment. How cool would it be to make it with your own hands?
So I started learning a bit more about flour and the different varieties of wheat. I had no idea there were so many varieties. I read up on red fife, which is a heritage wheat grown in Canada since the 1860s. Apparently, it is a hardy wheat and does not need fertilizers and herbicides to survive, so it can be grown organically. There is also spelt, which has a higher level of nutrients and can also be found organically. However, for my first foray into bread making I am using all purpose flour. It is what I had on hand, and I want to use it up.
I started by activating the yeast. Yeast is alive, despite appearing motionless in its small brown jar. But add warm water and sugar for it to feed, and it bubbles and thickens and grows and starts to smell like bread. From this I created the dough, which was very simply, yeast, water, flour and a small amount of butter. Then it was time for the fun part – kneading the dough. It requires a full 10 minutes to get it the right consistency, so that it is smooth and full and elastic. Fold it toward, rock it away, toward, away, fold, rock, fold, rock. It was rhythmic. I felt like a pioneer woman or something.
Then I put it in a bowl and it looked like this:
Then it rose and looked like this!
Then I separated the dough in two, rolled each one out, and then did a double fold and a cinnamon bun type roll on the whole thing (according to my Betty Crocker cookbook) and placed it in a bread pan to rise again. Rise it did, with a big domed top. The whole kitchen smelled like bread already, and I had not even baked it yet. I popped the loaves into the oven, and they came out like this:
I sliced one up to freeze:
I kept the other one for eating right away. My husband and I each took a slice, slathered it with butter and organic honey and it was… heaven.
It is fluffy and light, and my kids love it. I don’t think I can go back. So my plan is to make two fresh loaves of homemade bread every Sunday. Yummmmm.