Why You Need to Start Baking Your Own Bread At Home

27 Aug, 2020 | 4 Minutes

We find ourselves in strange times. Maybe at the beginning of the pandemic buying spree when you could not find bread you bought bread flour and yeast with the idea you were going to bake bread and you never did. You did your Internet research and suddenly it got complicated. You are thinking “why to start if I am just going to fail?” But at the same time, the idea of fresh-baked bread is just so tempting. I am going to tell you a bread baking secret that should put your fears to rest:

Home-baked bread even when it is done wrong usually tastes really good.

That said, my first bread recipe did not work. It was edible but nowhere near as good as what my grandmother’s holiday recipe tasted like. Baking bread is one of those culinary pursuits where you can usually get away with eating your failures (who knew destroying the evidence could be tasty). I learned all about baking bread just to learn to bake my late grandmother’s recipe. I can say now what I make for the holidays tastes a lot like my childhood memories.

Probably the thing that scares most novice bakers is the idea of kneading bread. If you have a large stand mixer you were given as a wedding present that you never use, well now you have a use. Or if you ever wondered what that hook attachment was that came with the stand mixer, you are about to find out.

If you are discouraged here because you do not own a stand mixer, rest assured if you have some upper body strength and a lot of frustration over current world events then you can knead bread. And if you don’t own a stand mixer and have some mobility issues there are always no-knead bread recipes. Hopefully, at this point you are starting to picture yourself baking bread.

Now we have to address some of the realities of baking bread in the pandemic world. Some of the basic ingredients are in short supply. You do not need bread flour to bake bread you can manage just fine with all-purpose flour. If you shop a decent at a good grocery store they may sell some other types of bread flours. Just promise me you do not use cake and pastry flour for bread. If you use a gluten-free flour be sure to find a recipe designed for gluten-free flour.

The other issue with bread is it needs a rising agent which is typically yeast. If you find yeast in your grocery store that is great (buy extra and send it to me). The instant yeast will do you just fine. However, if you go to the grocery store you probably are not going to find yeast in which case you will need a sourdough starter. Look up sourdough starter guides on the Internet. The other option is baking powder. If you are going to use baking powder find a recipe that calls for it like Irish soda bread. You can also bake bread with self-rising flour and if you can’t find self-rising flour look for a self-rising flour recipe.

The two other ingredients you need for bread are salt and water. Use the table salt sized salt crystals, not the kosher salt sized crystals. As for the water hopefully, you have tap water (bread baking purists would probably use filtered water here). Water is straightforward here but if you are going to substitute it I would try room temperature beer.

That is bread in a nutshell: flour, salt, water, and yeast. Combine, knead, rest, shape, rest, and then bake.


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