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Why We Should All Be Making Our Own bread (with recipes)

Why We Should All Be Making Our Own bread (with recipes)

Why We Should All Be Making Our Own bread
Why We Should All Be Making Our Own bread

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In a world filled with convenience and instant gratification, the art of making homemade bread may seem like a quaint tradition from a bygone era. However, delving into the world of bread-making not only reconnects us with the fundamentals of sustenance but also offers an array of benefits that extend far beyond the kitchen. In this article, we explore why we should all be making our own bread, detailing the myriad advantages, the costs, and the aromatic rewards that come with embracing this timeless craft.

The Benefits of Homemade Bread:

  1. Healthier Ingredients: Homemade bread allows you to control the quality of ingredients, ensuring the absence of preservatives, additives, and unnecessary sugars. Opting for whole grains and organic flours enhances the nutritional profile, making your bread a wholesome choice.
  2. Tailored Nutrition: Customizing your bread recipes enables you to cater to specific dietary needs. Whether you’re aiming for gluten-free, low-carb, or high-fiber options, homemade bread empowers you to create a personalized and nutritious loaf.
  3. Cost-Effective: Contrary to popular belief, making your own bread can be more economical in the long run. Buying bulk quantities of flour and yeast can significantly reduce the per-loaf cost, especially when compared to artisanal or specialty store-bought bread.
  4. Therapeutic and Fulfilling: Kneading, proofing, and baking bread can be a meditative and stress-relieving process. The tactile experience of working with dough provides a sense of accomplishment and a therapeutic escape from the demands of daily life.
  5. Aromatherapy in the Kitchen: Few things rival the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the home. The delightful scent triggers nostalgia and creates a warm, inviting atmosphere that lingers long after the bread has cooled.
artisan bread
artisan bread / Image from Pixabay

The Costs of Homemade Bread:

While the initial investment in quality ingredients and baking equipment may seem daunting, the overall cost of homemade bread remains competitive with store-bought alternatives, especially when considering the superior quality and personalization it affords.

Five Common Breads You Can Make at Home:

1. Classic White Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups warm water (about 110°F or 43°C)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water and sprinkle yeast over it. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and softened butter. Mix until a dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough, shape it into a loaf, and place it in a greased loaf pan.
  6. Let the dough rise again for about 30-45 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cool before slicing.

2. Whole Wheat Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve honey in warm water and sprinkle yeast over it. Let it sit until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and mix until a dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10-12 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1-2 hours.
  5. Punch down the dough, shape it into a loaf, and place it in a greased loaf pan.
  6. Allow the dough to rise again for 30-45 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  8. Cool before slicing.

3. No-Knead Artisan Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups warm water

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and yeast. Add warm water and stir until a sticky dough forms.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) with a covered Dutch oven inside.
  4. Transfer the dough into the hot Dutch oven, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Cool before slicing.
bread basket
bread basket

4. Olive Rosemary Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 ¾ cups warm water
  • 1 cup pitted and chopped olives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and yeast. Add warm water, olives, and rosemary. Mix until a dough forms.
  2. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1-2 hours.
  4. Shape the dough into a round loaf and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Allow the dough to rise again for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Cool before slicing.

5. Cinnamon Raisin Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups warm milk
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve sugar in warm milk and sprinkle yeast over it. Let it sit until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add the yeast mixture and mix until a dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes, incorporating raisins into the dough.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1-2 hours.
  5. Punch down the dough, shape it into a loaf, and place it in a greased loaf pan.
  6. Allow the dough to rise again for 30-45 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Cool before slicing.

Embracing the art of making homemade bread is a journey that transcends the boundaries of the kitchen. The physical and mental benefits, coupled with the delightful aromas and cost-effectiveness, make bread-making a rewarding and sustainable practice. So, roll up your sleeves, dust off the flour, and embark on the fulfilling adventure of crafting your own delicious loaves. Your taste buds and well-being will thank you.

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