Baking bread is not a lost art

What is it about homemade bread that makes me feel like everything in the world is quite alright?

How does it remind me of late breakfasts on Saturday morning, calloused hands rubbing flour across a forehead, the way warmth rushes in on me when I come through the front door of my home?

Why do I feel like I haven’t lived until I’ve actually baked a loaf of my own?

Homemade bread is the staple icon of comfort. Even though my Acadian heritage makes me powerfully hungry for ployes with drips of butter, I’m not about to turn my nose up to fluffy, warm bread with crunchy crusts.

No, no. Don’t pass the bread basket down the way. Set that wonder right here.

So it’s traditional and great. It tastes better than processed breads and holds up butter like a champion.

Before this past weekend, I had yet to bake bread. My mom used to make sourdough bread (I still can’t find a bread as good as that bread) and I would watch her. I didn’t have the best relationship with the kitchen as a child/teenager. I didn’t care much for how bread was made in those years – I was primarily concerned with when it would be ready, when I could eat it.

Now? I feel a crazy yearning to learn how to bake bread myself. Sure, it’s old-fashioned. You can just buy bread at the store and it’s sliced and everything. Then again, isn’t there something romantic and hearty and healthy about the idea of making it on your own?

I picture myself pinning on a “Baking Bread” badge to my linen lapel. My cheeks are rosy, I’m successfully pulling off overall shorts, and (I imagine) I’m pretty proud of myself.

But, it’s difficult, right? Something only seasoned cooks or bakers or supermoms can tackle?

Not so! The recipe below is pretty easy. Even though I made a mistake during almost every step, it came out of the oven hot and delicious. I based my recipe below off this recipe. I’m going to call my version “Kinderbread.”

As in, “Kindergarten,” where you’re allowed to spill the finger paints as long as you don’t do it too often. And also as in “kinder,” because this recipe is easier in the hands of bread beginners like myself. Follow the parentheticals for an example of just how bad you can be at this while still maintaining hope that the bread will turn out.

KINDERBREAD

Ingredients

3 cups lukewarm water (mine was a little cold)

1.5 tablespoons yeast (maybe I used that much)

1.5 tablespoons salt (maybe I used a little less)

7 cups of flour (original recipe called for 6.5 cups; I needed more, so I added it.)

3 tablespoons of wheat germ

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

2. Pour in water and gently mix for a couple minutes.

3. Cover the bowl with tin foil and leave for 5 hours .

4. After 5 hours, preheat oven to 450 degrees and cut the dough into either three or four pieces. Flour your hands and make a dough ball out of each piece. If the dough is very sloppy, gently knead in flour until it’s manageable in your hands.

5. Add dough balls to a cookie sheet, slash slits into the top of each ball with a knife, and immediately place in preheated oven.Place a small pan with about a cup of water on a lower rack to act as a water bath.

6. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for maximum preservation.

If you try your hand at this bread recipe, leave a comment and let the Call Me Old Fashioned community know how it turned out!

 

 

Jenna Beaulieu

About Jenna Beaulieu

Jenna is a writer who recently moved back home to the St. John Valley to settle down and nurture her roots. She’s a fan of excellent music, homemade gravy, and colored pencils (also, short books and long books, good pens, flannel, and when the June bugs don’t really come out much that year). For more about Jenna, visit her website at www.jennabeaulieu.com