Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Making Bread Sans Electrical Mixing Devices

Three years ago, if someone would have told me I would be making bread and jam "from scratch" I would have laughed and probably have said "yeah f*@-ing right" (except if it was my mom, dad or grandparents... no swearing in front of them!). 

Well holy poop, Andrew and I did both those things!

First of all, why make my own bread when I can buy some uber cheap at the grocery store? You know, the kind of bread that lasts for two weeks in our fridge and comes wrapped in plastic? Unfortunately their longevity is due to hidden ingredients such as preservatives (such as calcium propionate which is toxic to mould). Like other huge factory made products, these breads were created using a lot of energy (i.e. carbon) and PLASTIC.

Really though, I love home made bread, and my favourite happens to be Grand-mère's recipe. Sadly, she hasn't baked in the past decade and stories of her bread have actually taken on epic and legendary tones at family meals now.

Since both Andrew and I are slightly competitive (ok, Andrew is REALLY competitive) and everyone has always told us how HARD it is to make bread, we thought we'd rise to the challenge. (Andrew being a standmixer... we had to do this on the floor for leverage)

Our first attempt was on a Sunday as making bread takes TIME (don't even start about the 5 minute artisan stuff, I tried that twice and they both bombed terribly). Since Andrew got a food scale and by-weight baking book for Christmas, we were being EXACT on timing and ingredients. 

So exact, that when the recipe called for the dough to be put in the stand-mixer for 10 minutes... we both took turns stirring the dough in a stand-mixer-type motion. Seriously. We were stand-mixers. It was invigorating. (fancy schmancy folding technique as opposed to kneading...)

Five hours later we had bread that was still mushy in the middle. Being all crafty, I remembered that lots of other eco-bakers make home made croutons out of their stale bread. Quick olive oil, thyme, garlic and pepper and the mushy bread failure transformed into YUMMY crunchy croutons! 

The following Sunday I declared the by-weight baking book to be lame. I've always been much more of a fan of community and family recipes, and I wanted grand-mère's bread! (imagine me stomping my foot, that was practically the scene!).

After a quick phone call to my mom and convincing Andrew that grandmère never would have had a stand-mixer and thus we did not in fact have to pretend to be one, we actually made TWO loaves. Which turned out perfectly and... taste like grandmère bread!!! YES! (Croutons!!)

Seriously, I feel super crafty and love having yummy homemade bread. In order to make it worth the time it takes, we'll be freezing a few loaves (using old bread bags that I've saved). While it rises and does it's yeasty thing, I'll be able to practice yoga, read or chill out. I've even read an article about the meditative qualities of kneading bread... (lol, stirring a ball of dough like man-people isn't very meditative...).  (Successful loaves! Mmmm)

The next step, making whole wheat or 'crunchier' bread.

For those who don't mind trying white bread, here's the recipe!

Grand-Mère (Evelyn's) White Bread
1 cup of water
1 and a half tablespoon of dry yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 and a half teaspoon of kosher salt
2 cups of warm water
2 tablespoons of shortening
6 to 7 cups of flour

Add 1 cup of lukewarm water and sugar to the yeast (or add instant yeast to the other dry ingredients and then add three cups of water) let stand for ten minutes.
Add 2 cups of water, shortening, salt and half the flour. 
Beat with a spoon until smooth
Add the rest of the flour gradually: mix thoroughly using just enough so that it doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl (6-7 cups)

When dough is mixed well, create a ball
Place in a greased bowl and cover

Let rise (in a warm place!) until it doubles in size.
Punch down and divide into 2 loaves, place in greased pans.
cover and let rise until double in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. :)


Do you have a favourite homemade bread?

article and photographs copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Yum! We actually have the 5-minute artisan bread book and Jim is quite the budding baker. :) My favorite bread is probably my mango bread. Obviously there are no mangoes right now, so maybe tomorrow I'll make your grandmere's bread! P.S. Croutons are awesome, but perhaps less-perfect bread could also be turned into bread pudding. I love the mixing photos!

  2. Very cool! Congrats, it looks like it turned out great. Yummmm.

  3. Hey, thanks for stopping by my site ~ much appreciated! I've got to try this. Recently we've been making our own pizzas and we are still perfecting the dough. It's been fun. Maybe bread will be next on the list. Sounds wonderful! Thank you and stay warm!

  4. ooh thanks for sharing the recipe. i just discovered no knead bread and i am all about it right now! i was about to write a long comment, but i'm going to blog about this anyway tomorrow or friday so just check my blog.

  5. a stand mixer to make bread? my mom nor i ever owned one of those and make great bread. my favorite trick for rising? wrap the bowl in a blanket and put it under your comforter in bed - no draft, nice n warm.

  6. homemade bread is the best!! My boyfriend's mom makes all her bread from scratch. nothing else like it. However, I am scared of yeast. i feel like i never succeed when i use it...gotta keep trying!

  7. Those loaves look delicious!

    I also have the 5-minute artisan bread book and have failed miserably at making edible bread on about six different occasions. I finally decided it wasn't worth it. Luckily, we have a great local bakery that makes delicious and fresh organic whole wheat loaves.

    Perhaps I will try again with your grand-mere's recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Mmmmmm....
    Anytime somebody wants to give me some homemade bread, right out of the oven, that's my favorite...

  9. You are hilarious hon, stand mixer! I love home cooked bread too. My mum is a gem in the kitchen, old school. I'm inspired.

  10. I do make all our bread - we hardly ever buy bought bread anymore because it's really bad for Himself's IBS.

    I do confess that I use a bread machine for the kneading - fibromyalgia and kneading do not go well together :(

  11. Your bread looks delicious. Just by looking at it I can almost smell that oh so yummy baked bread smell. I love, love, love the smell of bread baking in the oven. I make my own bread, well because there are just too many scary ingredients in the store bought ones. I also make the no-knead bread which is also very good... almost like sourdough bread. You are a very ambitious young woman.

  12. Yumtastic! Your bread looks so delicious! I have only ventured a bit into the world of bread baking, but thoroughly enjoy it, something so rewarding out of kneading dough with the hands. Congrats!

  13. Okay, that's it. I'm going to try to make homemade bread as soon as I have the chance. This is awesome.

  14. WOW!!! WELL DONE! The bread and croutons look great! I will definitely have to try this! My fav bread recipe is Irish soda bread...uber easy! I will have to post it for you to try!

  15. Love this! You're so right about that homemade stuff even though we totally use a bread maker. It's been wonderful having bread that we put all the ingredients into though and it makes us mindful about having to take the time and planning for making what we'll need for the week. I'll have to try out the recipe though---it looks good!

  16. wow that is pretty (insert curse word here) awesome! looks great too. have a wonderful weekend. hugs!!

  17. looks lovely. now just put a pound of butter or earth balance on it, and we're good to go.

  18. Yum! Nominated you for an award on my blog :) Namaste!

  19. The wonderful husband bakes bread every Sunday. The house smells so good!


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