Saturday, September 18, 2010

Baking bread

A week from today, I'll be in Pennsylvania at the Mother Earth News Fair, and baking bread is one of the things I'll be talking about. I've been baking bread for more than twenty years. Mike and I started in Orlando when our oldest was a baby. Back then we did it all by hand. After my second was born, I got a bread machine. And a couple years ago, I bought a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a dough hook. Although I've done it a variety of ways, the fact is that I keep doing it year after year. So, it recently occurred to me that I might not be able to identify with my audience members very well. I am thinking that quite a few of them don't bake bread, which is why they're attending my session.

So, I need your help! Why don't you bake bread? Or, why don't you bake bread more often? Do you not have enough time, or is there something intimidating about baking bread? Have you had any bad experiences? Put your questions in the comment section, and I promise that as I'm preparing my material for the conference, I'll answer your questions on the blog. And if you do bake bread regularly (or semi-regularly), what got you started, and what keeps you going?


SkippyMom said...

So weird. I just wrote about this today on my blog. I used to make all our bread from scratch. Then I bought a bread maker. Then I went back to scratch. Then I got sick and now I have gone back to the bread maker [I can't knead or stand for long periods anymore.]

This is an awesome topic. I would be interested in finding recipes for healthier breads for the bread machine and ones that are lower in salt [not that 1 tsp of salt is a lot mind you] Things like that.

Can't wait to hear all about the lecture you are going to give. Good luck.

Chicken Momma said...

I love fresh baked bread and I love to make bread. Honestly, the only reason that I don't make bread is time and laziness. I have so many demands on my time that it just isn't a priority for me. I feel I can get good organic bread at the store, so it's not a necessity to make it every week.

When I do make it, it means I had some extra time and was able to really enjoy the process. Bread baking is one of the simple joys I never want to ruin by making it a chore if I can help it.

Oh, and I would make it in my bread maker, except I lost the part that mixes and kneads the dough.

Michelle said...

When I was a kid, we had a bread maker and used it a couple of times a week. I had a bread maker on my wedding registry, but never did get one - and eight years later I still don't have one. :P

I'd like to get one, but the fact is that the two of us just don't eat a whole loaf of bread in a week. Store bought bread keeps forever in the fridge - I feel that with homemade bread it would go bad more quickly and we'd end up throwing it out.

The other thing is there's an overwhelming selection of machines out there, and I'm not sure how to choose one. I wonder if there's a company out there that makes a mini breadmaker?

Oxray Farm said...

Since I found this recipe:

This is the only bread I make. I love kneading and shaping but I never seem to get it right and it bakes wrong, air pockets, falling in on itself etc..

I tried a bread-machine but I don't like the bread it makes. It seems to lack any flavor. Regardless I seem to have worked backwards from you. KitchenAid first, breadmachine, and now no knead recipe above.

Time is a factor but not an issue, I make time for homemade food. Bread, yogurt, cheese, tortillas, and granola year round staples for us. Any bread tips from the KitchenAid angle would be appreciated.

Krymsen said...

I am a bit abnormal. I refuse to buy bread. I also don't buy flour. I have wheat and a grain mill that I make our flour from.
I have 4 kids so when I make bread I make 6 loaves at a time. The amount of bread we go through became too expensive to buy so that is how I got into making it. My DH bought me a mill and 4 bushels of wheat for mothers day last year because I learned that the WW flour in the grocery stores is basically dead. The oils have gone rancid but most people cant/ don't know the difference.
My favorite bread I make is my Oatmeal Molasses Whole Wheat bread. Soooo yummy that I can almost eat a whole loaf myself!

The Tidy Brown Wren said...

I started making bread because I wanted to eat healthier. Time is my biggest problem so when I bake, I bake 4 loaves at a time. I freeze 3 loaves and thaw one when we need it. There are only 3 of us at home right now, so that works for us. I use my kitchen-aide stand mixer to do the kneading.

Haley said...

I do bake bread some, but the bread only ever turns out good for toast or eating plain. It never has enough structure for slicing for sandwiches; it is always too soft, I guess. Any tips on that would be much appreciated.

Also, I don't know how you bake bread, but if you have any tips on making your own starter instead of buying commercial yeast, those would also be helpful. I have always been too intimidated.

Sally said...

I have never made bread before (today)... I was inspired by this post and the one that SkippyMom made over on her blog the other day and currently have some french bread baking away in the oven.

I figured maybe I would have more questions if I actually tried baking some bread, first. One thing I am wondering...when you mix the yeast and the warm water, do you put the yeast in the cup first or the water, or does it even matter?

I mixed the bread in my fancy pants food processor, so I did not have to worry about kneading.

I think that time would be a factor that would hinder me from making bread on a consistent basis... I don't always have 2 or 3 hours to allow dough to rise before I can bake the bread.

Susan B said...

My road to bread baking started with an article in the Chicago Tribune about the book 'artisan bread in five minutes a day'. I went to the web site and bought the book. It was so easy! Then I graduated to more complex breads that actually require kneading, etc. But the above was so simple and so successful that it helped ease me into bread baking. Try their web site = they offer a free tutorial.

Sally said...

You might also want to discuss rememdies to common if the dough seems to sticky, what do you do?

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Thanks so much for all of your responses. I'm in PA now, getting ready to head over to the Mother Earth News Fair. I made sure I covered all your questions and comments in my presentation, which will be presented both today and tomorrow. I'm going to post the contents of my handout on the blog today.

Here are my responses to questions that aren't directly answered in the handout:

Michelle, they don't make mini breadmakers, but you can make different sized loaves in bread makers. I used to make a little loaf in my bread maker and use it as a bowl for spinach dip when we had parties. I also have several other suggestions in response to your question in my handout.

Haley, I used to have the same problem with slicing bread. The French bread recipe (posted today) works great for slicing, but most bread recipes can be used for sandwich bread. You just have to play with the amount of liquid and fat. I don't know the recipe you're using, but if you decrease liquid and/or fat, it should firm up enough to slice.

Sally, doesn't matter whether you put the yeast or water in the bowl first. Personally, I put the water in, then sprinkle the yeast on top.

Thanks again, everyone!


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