16 October 2009

The Staff of Life, part 2

The close reader may well have wondered why I made two different loaves of bread the other day. One was the crusty little boule that accompanied our soup and salad dinner; the other was a basic sandwich loaf for school lunches and toast breakfasts.

I can, and do, make a nice plain white bread by hand, with the usual kneading and whatnot. But more often, I rely on a shortcut - a homemade mix done up in the bread machine.

The recipe is pretty basic - the only non-dry ingredients are water and butter. In assembly line fashion, I measure out all of the dry stuff (flour, salt, yeast, sugar, powdered milk) into one quart plastic containers. Usually I batch up four quarts at a time, in addition to making a loaf right then and there. The mix gets stored in the fridge - which isn't completely necessary, but yeast keeps longer at cold temperatures. (I buy yeast in bulk and keep it in the freezer.) When it's time to make a loaf, I just need to add water and butter. Most of the time, I use the bread machine only for the knead and first rise - because I don't love the way it bakes the bread. It's easy enough to plop the dough into a bread pan for the second rise and bake it in the oven.

Why bother? Because it's cheaper than buying supermarket bread, and it's not full of ingredients that I can't pronounce.

16 comments:

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Your house must smell great.

Ellie

Bee said...

And it TASTES better, too, no doubt.

I'm so intrigued by how you've worked out the practicalities.

RuthWells said...

I wish I were baking bread this weekend. Instead, I am nursing the world's worst cold (with my husband away, natch) and I'm down to one cough drop and about 10 lotion-permeated tissues. Thinking seriously about training the dog to run to the corner store with a shopping list.

Yeah, I'd rather be baking bread!

Anjali said...

I used to make my own bread all the time, until our bread maker broke. Now I buy bread at a local bakery that grinds its own flour and makes the best honey whole wheat I've ever tasted (with about 5 ingredients). But it's expensive, and I'm thinking of investing in a good bread maker again.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

When my kids were younger I used to bake bread every day for their after school snack--we always had lots of visitors!

phd in yogurtry said...

Need a house mate?

How about the occasional border?

Very impressed with your pre-made system. I don't think I've ever baked bread (besides sweet breads).

Ozma said...

You have to know about the no knead bread that doesn't require a bread machine? You need one of those expensive French ceramic pots (forgot name)...but they have them cheaper at Ikea, Target, etc.

I only say that because it was in the NYT. But dang, I lost the recipe.

Anyway, good for you with the making of the bread. I had that plan but...Has not yet come to fruition.

wheelsonthebus said...

I love kneading my bread, but it is the first rise that gives me trouble. Since I have to be home after the first rise to press it down and then after the second rise to put it in the pans, it takes a whole day. I try to do it on Sundays for that reason.

flutter said...

Oh man, I want dinner at your house

Onepot said...

I recently started baking all our bread at home as well. Here's what I do:

http://onepot.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/irreverent-bread/

But your post makes me wonder about skipping the kneading bit... (Though I have to admit I do find it quite therapeutic.)

alejna said...

I'm so impressed. And inspired. You have me now thinking about how I can fit bread-baking into my routine.

MDTaz said...

In France, where I'm lucky enough to live, I can stop at one of four neighborhood boulangeries for freshly baked bread without all those ingredients you can't pronounce. You just have to learn to pronounce baguette. You remind me not to take that for granted.

Nap Warden said...

I am both totally impressed, and totally jealous. Sounds like you have the bread making gig down, and I have no idea where to start:( Love home made bread:P

KC said...

I bow down to you. I love boule. Saying it and eating it.

wyliekat said...

Buddy has been making forays into bread lately, to my absolute joy. I think a man who bakes is sexy as hell. But that might have to do with the fact that my oven and I aren't speaking.

Furrow said...

I was making all of our bread for a while. For me, it's bread machine start to finish, but I do love the one and two syllable ingredients.