Breaking Bread

By Kate Mier

Regardless of the new low-carb trend, I think most people agree that bread is one of the best tasting foods around. I know my husband and I often rank restaurants not based on their wine selection or dinner entrees but rather on the type of bread they serve before dinner. Why not bring these homemade breads into your own kitchen? My sister in law makes homemade bread all the time. She told me that bread making was not all that difficult and can be a lot of fun. While she has a bread maker, it is really not necessary. If your family is still enjoying the indulgence of bread, think about making this treat even better with a homemade twist. is a wonderful resource to begin your bread making. On this site, I learned the basics about bread making. The common ingredient among all breads is yeast. Packaged yeast is readily available in the grocery store. Other ingredients you will need are flour, sugar, salt, butter and milk. Mixing the ingredients of your bread will vary depending on what type of bread you are making. Once the mixing is done, you will have to knead the bread by folding over the dough and pushing it down over and over again.

After kneading the dough, place the bread in a large oiled or buttered bowl. Oil the dough ball and cover it with a towel or plastic sheet and place in a warm draft-free place. For most breads, you will want to let the dough rise until it doubles in size. This usually takes about an hour. At this point, knead the dough a few more times and either place it back into the bowl to rise again or shape the bread into loaves or buns and put it into greased pans, depending on the recipe. Allow the dough to rise for another half an hour or so. Once the bread has risen, place it in the oven to bake until it reaches the desired color. The loaves should feel hollow when you tap them with your finger. Bread will last 4 days to a week in a bread box or may be frozen to enjoy later.

There are other ways to make bread than by hand. A bread maker will definitely make this process more convenient. You can get many models for under $100 and you will be able to make bread in about an hour without much labor. Stand mixers and food processors can also be used to aid you in the process of making homemade bread. Check out The Bread Bible by Rose Beranbaum for more information on how to use these machines.

In addition to their being numerous ways to prepare homemade bread, there are also numerous types of bread you can choose from. Making homemade pizza is one type of homemade bread making. All you need is the right ingredients and a homemade baking sheet to get things started. What could be better than breaking out some dinner rolls at a party that you made yourself. Once you’ve tried a few of these basic homemade breads, research more complex recipes and even even try fun things such as bagels or baguettes.

Even if you are trying to stay clear of white breads, you can still make your favorite whole grain recipes at home. Check out the book Great Whole Grain Breads by Beatrice Ojakangas for some great recipes. To make whole wheat bread, many recipes include other ingredients such as whole wheat flour, whole unprocessed bran, wheat germ or cracked whole wheat. Multiple grain breads are easy to make by using multiple types of flour and an assortment of seeds.

The next time you’re stuck at home doing laundry or watching the kids, take the time to prepare some homemade bread that you can enjoy with your family. You can make anything from bagels for the morning to multi-grain bread for dipping in olive oil with dinner. My philosophy is if you’re going to eat bread, you might as well really enjoy it. If you are always trying the new bread flavors at Panera, consider testing the same things out in your own kitchen. A few recipes and some time is all you need to be on your way to a bread baking paradise. n