We haven’t bought a loaf of bread from the store in over a year. Trial and error has brought us from whole wheat tooth-breaking rocks to hearty, chewy crusted artisan loaves we bake today. We didn’t go cold turkey, it was a process, starting with a thrift store bread oven. It churned out lovely loaves, most of which the kids made. Experiments with recipes brought enough success to push us to the next level, making it in our oven. Finally, we have arrived at a product we find yummy and easy enough to make. If you’d like to bake some fresh bread for the smell and oh so yummy melted butter satisfaction, here’s some tips.
1. Start with a bread oven.We bought our Welbilt bread maker for $10 from a thrift store, the cost of a few loaves or a toy my kids ignore. (Electric items can be returned if they don’t work at Goodwill.) We found the manual online with the recipes. It’s been a reliable producer and from a few ingredients to loaves in 3 – 3 1/2 hours. My children have memorized the recipe that we enjoy most and ALWAYS want to measure and add in ingredients. We like to make a loaf from our machine when guests are here, as they have always appreciated the fresh, hot, chewy bread with lunch. We also take this in our motorhome when we travel. We start it up, go play, and return to a fresh bread infused motorhome.
2. Mix and make in a big bowl. Upon a suggestion from a friend we tried the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. After trying and trying failed recipe over next from many sources, this book DOES deliver! It’s packed with so many great recipes. We like the Oat Bread and the Olive Oil Bread so much, we haven’t ventured into other recipes yet. This gives us a more hands on dough experience and yeast rising success without draining our time and dashing our hopes. It also taught us what bread can be, it changes your expectations. You make up big batches of dough, and don’t have to knead. We only knead when we are rolling out bread sticks and such. IT WORKS! Here is our bowl of ingredients ready for the big mix:
3. Make fresh bread when you can. This isn’t a challenge or all or nothing proposition. You can make bread when you want, and buy it when you don’t. It’s an enjoyable experience for our family, not a dull chore and so much fun for little pioneer hands