It’s a staple in homes across our wide, wonderful world. You toast it. You send it to school in your kids’ lunchboxes. You slap whatever culinary delights tickle your fancy on it, to make a complete meal in record time. Bread truly is an incredible, versatile food. Did you ever consider that you could bake it yourself?
If your answer is “no”, that you probobly have some reasons for it. It takes too much time. It’s too complicated. It’s too expensive. This article is here to open your eyes to a new world of delicious possibilities.
You see, with bread becoming a mainstay in many global diets, the laws of supply and demand are doing what they do. Take a stroll down the bread aisle, grab two bags of bread, and you’ll see what I mean. As a community, we eat so much bread that companies are forced to use mass production lines to keep up.
If you want anything more specialized than factory-produced bread, you’ve got to go to the bakery. The thing is, these types of bread are priced as specialty items, too. You can get something handmade if you’re willing to pay extra.
If you’re willing to bake your own bread, not only do you get a handmade product (hello, rewarding?), but you also maintain greater control over the nutrition of it and save money. That’s right, a loaf of homemade bread is cheaper than its store-bought counterpart.
So, now that we’ve established that baking your own bread rocks, let’s talk about some great type of breads. A whole range of easy recipes are available on sites like King Arthur Baking, but these are our two favorites.
The Classic Sandwich Bread
It’s the poster child of bread. Most likely, it’s what you think of subliminally whenever you hear the words “toast” or “sandwich”. White bread is one of the most commercially available products in the developed world, and is equally easy to make yourself. It takes very few, simple ingredients that most people are already familiar with. Yes, it really is that simple.
One tip that isn’t readily apparent in these recipes might be what to do with yeast. For those who are making bread for the first time, sprinkle your yeast into your warm water and let sit for 5 minutes before using it. This is universal for all bread recipes.
The dough also needs to be kneaded and stretched for at least 15 minutes before baking.
(6 ¼ cups) All-Purpose Flour
Acts as the body of the bread, forming most of its substance.
(2 ¼ cups) Warm Water
Turns the flour from powder to dough. The other critical part of the body.
(1 tbs) Salt
Creates reactions that help bind the bread together during baking.
(¼ oz) Yeast
Causes the dough to “rise” and attain the fluffy volume we are familiar with
You can add sugar, as most factory manufacturers do, to moisten bread, but the difference is hardly significant. That means that, in addition to reducing cost, you’ve also made your bread healthier!
Whole Wheat Bread
Carbs are still carbs, but if you’re going to eat them, you might as well get as much nutrition out of it as possible! That’s what happens when you choose to bake and eat whole wheat bread rather than plain white. Let’s take a look at the different proportions for this recipe.
(4 ¾ cups) Whole Wheat Flour
(1 ½ cups) Warm Water
(½ tsp) Salt
(¼ oz) Yeast
At the base recipes, the whole wheat bread holds more nutrition than white. However, if taste is your primary concern, feel free to augment your whole wheat recipe with a little butter or honey!
A Bread Box of Your Choice
So, you’ve got your dough. Naturally, you want to morph it into that elusive delicacy we’ve been talking about- a homemade loaf of bread. There are two main ways to do this. One of them might even be in your home already.
You can bake your bread in a proper bread pan right in your conventional oven. Most ovens will cook a loaf through at 350 degrees over a period of 40-50 minutes. Look for a golden-brown crust and a hollow sound when the bottom is tapped.
If you don’t have an oven or want an easier, more customizable way to bake your bread, there exists a contraption for just that. Contraptions, actually. Bread makers are compact cooking units designed specifically for baking bread in a variety of settings. Some of these machines even have internal devices to knead the dough for you!
Whichever way you decide to bake, making your own bread will save you money and give you that irreplaceable handmade taste!