Breaking Bread

Honey white bread recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

Honey white bread recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

We use the term ‘breaking bread’ to talk about eating with someone or sharing a meal. It’s an old term that’s probably thousands of years old. Since man was able to gather grains and grind them, he has made bread. What did the first prehistoric man think when somehow he got distracted mixing the crushed grains with water and natural yeast took over? “I just took my eye off this for a hour while I watched that mastodon and how did it get that big?”

That magic moment of yeast and flour is what makes baking bread SO satisfying. Our ancestors baked bread to eat. It was part of a daily routine. We have the luxury of buying fresh bread every day if we wanted to. So how did most people get away from this?

I’ve been exploring bread making and feel like I’m communing with every ancestor that’s come before me. And not bread making where you dump ingredients into a machine. Real rising and kneading of dough.

My cousin Alex and his amazing bread. (foodfitforfelix.com)

My cousin Alex and his amazing bread. (foodfitforfelix.com)

My cousin Alex in England bakes bread every day and he has inspired me to try more complicated breads. I look at his posts and am in awe of the beautiful crusts he creates.

We are lucky that modern technology exists, like my KitchenAid mixer with a bread hook. Let’s not forget self-rising dry yeast! Without these I would probably be popping out to buy my bread. Even with these tools, bread is something that takes patience and time but oh are the results worth it!!

As it starts to bake, the smell is what pushes you on. It is THE most amazing smell and the moment your bread is newly out of the oven you feel SUCH a sense of accomplishment!

Rustic french bread baked in a dutch oven.

Rustic french bread baked in a dutch oven.

I started off first with a simple honey white bread. The recipe looked easy. I took my time and followed it exactly and was pleased by 2 perfect loaves! I’d actually made bread! And it was really delicious!

So that success made me (the overachiever) slightly ambitious to try something harder. I wanted to try something with a crust. I found a rustic french crusty bread recipe and thought I’d give it a go. I again followed the recipe exactly. As the dough was finished in the mixer I wasn’t so sure about this. I floured and kneaded it and let it do its rise. This one called for baking in parchment in a dutch oven. I still had my doubts — but 2 hours later was rewarded with a gorgeous rustic french bread!

Seeded wholewheat bread

Seeded wholewheat bread

Your confidence grows as fast as your bread rises, so this week I attempted a seedy wholewheat bread. This one was filled with sunflower and caraway seeds and oats. Three hours of rising — it was testing my impatience but once baked was absolutely amazing!

Bread making is zen-like and a perfect de-stressing exercise. I have a long list of bread to try, and rolls and focaccia!

I feel the only drawback will be my waistline… can you bake wearing a caftan?