Wonders of Bread

August 15, 2007 at 1:43 pm (Uncategorized)

Last week I decided I had had enough with wasting time in the bread aisle trying to find a loaf that didn’t contain anything on my List of Things To Avoid. It’s mostly things like high fructose corn syrup, excessive honey, nuts and odd spices or too many preservatives. I like honey, and I like nuts, but in plain bread for sandwiches? Not so much. I would just go to Wild Oats and find bread there but considering the long drive and gas required to go there for just one loaf of bread every few weeks? Not worth it. The few types of bread my local store carries that pass my basic test are expensive – $4 or more per small loaf, and they’re small slices, and have a sticky molasses taste to them that I’m not fond of. The bakery in the store does carry bread without HFCS and so on, but there’s no way to be sure I will get a loaf of it while it’s fresh. (since I shop later in the day, most of the fresh ones are long gone) I buy rolls and buns from there when I can, but the quality can be random as well.

The whole ordeal has left me a bit irritated, and while I did complain about it a bit since I detest wasting time in the store trying to sort ingredients, I was working out a solution. My choices? Either be less picky, or make my own.

p8100006.jpgAnd so I did. For what I spend on one loaf of bread, I can easily make three loaves at home and be able to control what goes into them. It’s not a perfect and simple process by any means. I don’t own a breadmaker, but considering we’ve been through two loaves in under a week and I’m about to start a third, buying one might be in the future. Mixing the ingredients by hand, making sure not to kill the yeast, waiting for it to rise twice (40-60 minutes per) and then baking time adds up to about three hours. Also during that time there’s dishes to wash and a slight floury mess to clean up from kneading the dough. I don’t mind making the bread by hand at all, it’s actually fun, and reminds me of the happier times in my childhood when my mom and I would bake.

 This first loaf pictured rose and baked beautifully. The taste was plain, following a recipe closely and tasted too much like flour, almost overpowering alone. It did make excellent garlic bread though and it was well enjoyed. The second loaf was a different recipe and did not rise in the bowl as expected, so I anticipated a flat loaf. I nearly tossed the dough but decided to just bake it anyway. It turned out just fine, and tasted much better than the first. I’m trying a different recipe for the third; should taste as good as the second but rise better.

During the baking spree I also made a large batch of sugar cookies since store bought cookies are generally avoided here. Cookies never last long – the large container I filled on Friday is now empty. Again, another instance where making them from scratch is cheaper and better than buying them. If I didn’t have the abundance of free time I do right now, I doubt that the frequency of baked goods and slow cooked meals would happen except on weekends. It’s something I try to enjoy as much as possible because I know at some point my free time will vanish. Before that happens though, I’ve been toying with the idea of precooking a bunch of meals and keeping them in the freezer so that I don’t have to give up healthy meals. I already keep a small stock of precooked rice pouches. Each pouch has a generous serving size in it. Mixed with vegetables and some garlic, it’s a perfect snack or light meal.

 

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