We’re almost out of bread and, without a lot on this weekend’s calendar, it seemed a good time to make a loaf or two. A few last-minute additions to the day kept me running, but I still got four (!) loaves made. Those who think that making bread is out of their reach should know that if I can make four loaves of bread on an unexpectedly busy day, they can make bread, too. I once told a group of baking students that it’s all about “being the boss of their bread.” Here’s how it happened today:
Up at 8 to take a spin class (a girl’s gotta work out if she eats like I do), then home to clean up and take my youngest to a playdate. I enjoyed chatting with the other mom, a good friend, and we didn’t get out of there until 2. Once home, I saw a window to start on the bread, so I ground the wheat berries (Yes, I grind my own whole wheat flour–I think it’s fun and the only equipment needed is a Kitchen Aid® attachment.) and collected all other ingredients. Got the dough together and had just started kneading when I saw it was almost 4–needed to get my oldest to her Girl Scout cookie booth. Covered the dough and we went on our way. Dropped my daughter off and invited another Girl Scout mom (and friend) over for coffee and social media lessons. (I have a lot to learn.) I did a bit of kneading while my friend worked the laptop, then I covered the dough for its official rise. Picked up our girls at 5:30, then home to add a bit more flour to the dough (seemed sticky). Kneaded it a bit more before dividing it into four sections (doubled the recipe–might as well maximize the benefits), shaping loaves, and letting them rise in their pans. While I made supper and helped my daughters move room dividers around to fashion a stage for their dance show later that night, the loaves rose and were ready for baking just after 6 p.m. Out of the oven by 6:40, they were set for butter and jam at 7. It may sound a bit nuts, and maybe the running around part was. But making the bread–from start to finish–was easy enough. I worked making bread around my day instead of the other way around.
A good recipe is essential. I used one of my stand-by baking cookbooks: The Secrets to Jesuit Breadbaking. Another favorite bread book: The Book of Bread. Have yet to find a bad recipe in either. (Will not offer a recipe here as I’ve already taken up more space than I’d wanted to. There are oodles of bread recipes on the web or check out either of these cookbooks.) Other must-haves for bread-baking include the right ingredients–sometimes just flour, salt, yeast, sugar. And you also need to think its fun. If I didn’t get such a bang out of making bread, I could easily find hearty, wholesome artisan bread at any grocery store. But I love the process of baking bread. And I love the results. I know my kids do, too, which makes it even more gratifying.