I think it has been about ten years since the first time I wanted to make homemade bread. Now finally I got around to it, since money does not grow on trees, the economy is tough, and I don't have a full-time job (except for being a mother!). Now I am regretting I haven't done this earlier - not because it is cheaper but because it is fun and tastes so good! Not to mention the look on my husbands face when he comes home and smells the aroma :)
It is sad indeed to read the list of ingredients on store bought 'bread'. I put it in quotation marks purposely, because it doesn't even resemble real bread. When I came to the States and saw Wonder bread for the first time, I was wondering how anyone can eat it. For many years my family bought bread at the local Russian store, a nostalgic tradition. Then once I got married we bought artisan breads at a regular grocery store until I found Trader Joe's Tuscan bread, a great value and delicious taste. But now, you can't really beat the value of homemade bread, twice the amount for half the price! Yes, it is a time investment, but certainly worth it if you have an hour+ to spare.
Check out the wiki for the recipe and try it yourself! Then post your own review and photos. By no means is this the ultimate recipe, it is rather basic, no frills. You can do your own variations. I made it with whole wheat flour but really want to try plain white. Here are some things I want to try with this and you can too:
Tips: I like it round, but you can try any shape. It is also huge, so if you live alone you might want to half the recipe. I actually have a kitchen scale and weighed all the ingredients, but found that I needed more warm water than the recipe calls for. This recipe has no dairy ingredients, you can try a variation that does. I think a bit of honey would not hurt either. The Trader Joe's bread that we used to buy has pretty much the same ingredients plus a bit of honey. I highly recommend King Arthur flour though, it is great quality with consistent results (in my other baking ventures at least). Make sure you have fresh, high quality yeast, it makes a big difference. Mine wasn't the freshest, otherwise it would have been even more delicious (I would rate my loaf +4, not 5).
This can be a fun project if you have children. You can have them help with kneading the dough and make it a weekly activity to do together. You don't need a breadmaker for this either. Have fun and send any tips my way if you are a seasoned bread maker!
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