What I don't like, is ridiculous fillers to keep bread fresh longer, or softer, or whatever. That isn't food. It's no wonder our bodies are having difficulties processing what we put into them. Look at how much of it is highly processed! I do not like paying almost five dollars for bread that less likely to clog my family's guts than the cheap, HFC laden loaf I would pay one dollar for. The loaf that I could bake with quality ingredients for about the same price. But that's a soapbox story for another time. We're talking about bread here - because I love it.
Bread baking - cooking in general I think - is perceived as a massive undertaking that fills hours of one's day and is generally not worth the time and trouble because we must go forth and PRODUCE things. I argue that is not the case, and that the time spent making something at home can be the binder that brings the family back to each other. Bread - really - can be pretty simple so why not start there? Here is a link to the recipe that changed my baking life forever:
There are two fabulous things about this recipe -
1) You do not need to KNEAD anything.
2) You can make enough in one batch for several loves, and either store the dough for a week or freeze it in loaf size quantities.
So. . .We start with yeast and salt in a really big bowl, then add some water to make a slurry.
When you are ready to bake, simply cut off a chunk and let it rest for about 20 min to warm up. Whatever you don't use can go back in the fridge.
Form your loaf and let it sit for 90 min to finish warming up and rise a little. Shape it however you want. I attempted a baguette shape. Go ahead and laugh.
Some people like to get all fancy and use cornmeal on the pan or baking stone, but I hate that because I think it's messy. I use parchment paper. Either one works better than oiling your tray/ stone. Oil is useless.
Score your loaf and brush it with water right before you bake it. The loaf is baked at a relatively high temperature and includes a proofing step which is explained in the recipe link. It's nothing scary. Very simple, in fact. Within 30 min, you will have a lovely loaf of delicious bread. Happy day!
Here's the link again if you need it: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/artisan-bread-in-five-minutes-a-day.aspx
Flour matters, in case you were wondering. There is a difference in the gluten (wheat protein) content between bread flour and all purpose flour AND white flour vs. whole wheat. Whole = more protein and all purpose (refined) means less protein, more carbohydrate. Yeast will devour all purpose flour faster than whole wheat. Whole wheat flours develop gluten strands more slowly. It impacts the texture of the bread as well as the flavor. ' Where your flour grows impacts how it behaves in bread too. French bread in France is phenomenal and unique because of the soil structure and climate French wheat grows in. It literally cannot be recreated anywhere else. But maybe you can buy flour from France. Washington grown wheat comes pretty close. Pastry flour is always inappropriate for loaf bread. There is not enough gluten to hold the bread together at all. You cannot substitute whole wheat pastry flour for white bread flour because the gluten content is vastly different. I learned that from my chef/ baker husband.
In this method, if you use whole wheat bread flour, you will need to adjust the yeast and water quantities. You will likely need a bit more. If you use all purpose flour, you will likely need a tad bit less yeast. I tend to blend the two. I like whole wheat bread better, but add a little all purpose flour for 'lift.
Try it and see what you think. We have a gluten free member of our household now, so the next great experiment will be to see if I can do the same thing with gluten free flours. Costco carries a brand that is supposed to be a 1 to 1 substitute. I suspect the loaf will be more tender and fragile, but we shall see. I'll keep you posted.