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 ecoyogini.blogspot.com