Why I enjoy bread baking

5 Reasons to Bake Bread

by Shirley Byers

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Realtors suggest people wanting to sell their home arrange to have bread baking in the oven when potential buyers are viewing the house. There's something about the aroma of those baking loaves that makes a house more attractive.

Cranking up the appeal of your house is one reason you might consider bread baking, but I can think of at least five more.

  1. It's better for your family. It's healthier. You know exactly what's in it. And you know what's not in it, such as potassium bromate, partially hydrogenated oil, and other additives you may or may not mind putting in your body.
  2. It tastes better. Once you've had your mouth around a slice of your very own, made from scratch loaves, fresh from the oven, spread with honey or jam or accompanied by a chunk of your favorite cheese, you will never go back to mass produced, supermarket loaves.
  3. It's fun. There is something therapeutic and so satisfying in turning a few basic ingredients into something nutritious and delicious, to say nothing of the psychological value of mixing, kneading and punching. (Love the punching!)
  4. It's easy. Really, it is. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but like anything worth doing, it's worth taking the time to learn to do well. You may produce one or two less than perfect batches, but if you keep trying, you will be turning out little masterpieces in no time. Go online to find recipes and even videos showing exactly how to make bread. Try allrecipes.com.
  5. And, it's cheaper! Flour is your main ingredient. Depending on whether you buy it with your groceries, pick it up at your local health food store, or if you're really lucky like me and can get it from the farmer who grew the wheat (or in my case, spelt), the end product will cost less and deliver more.

I pay $1.00 a pound for organic spelt flour. Price of flour per loaf works out to about 62 cents per loaf. Using supermarket flour would push the cost down even more. Other ingredients include liquid (usually water), yeast, sugar, salt and oil. Honey can be substituted for sugar. Just reduce the liquid.

Make sure all of your ingredients are fresh. Freshly ground flour should be stored in the refrigerator or even freezer until just before being used. Store yeast in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Use regular or instant yeast. I can't see any difference but both have their fans. It might be a good idea to start with instant. It can be added directly to the mixing bowl, whereas traditional yeast must be mixed with water and a bit of sugar and allowed to dissolve and begin to work in a small bowl for about 10 minutes before being added to the other ingredients.

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There is no need to rush out and buy bread loaf pans. Make round loaves and bake them on a cookie sheet or even in foil pie plates.

Bread needs warmth to rise. Make sure the house is not too cool. Cover dough with a clean, dry cloth. (I have an Irish linen dishtowel reserved solely for this purpose.)

After loaves have cooled completely, store in clean plastic bags. Any loaves that won't be eaten in the next day or so can be frozen. Slice before freezing for easier defrosting/toasting. Do not store bread in the refrigerator. It seems to dry it out.

If you can (and you can) master the art of bread making, you can also expand your repertoire to include cinnamon buns, dinner rolls, pizza crust, and a plethora of other yeast breads. You can have fun creating tasty and healthy breads for your family and save money at the same time. Does it get any better than that?

Reviewed July 2017

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