Kneading More Bread

4-tips-for-baking-breadThe other week I posted a picture of fresh sourdough bread that I had made. My friend asked for some tips and recipes so I thought it would make a good topic for a blog post.

It all started with biscuits early this summer.  I’m not sure what prompted me to make biscuits one morning but knowing me we were probably low on everything else that would have been acceptable to eat at breakfast time and after flipping through a cookbook I realized I had enough ingredients to make some biscuits… from scratch.

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The recipe said Fast… which is totally not true the first time around but after almost three months of cooking biscuits for breakfast it has definitely turned into a fast recipe.  The Baking Powder Biscuits from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook Bridal Edition require about 10 minutes of prep and 12 minutes baking.  I make it even quicker because I add more milk to my batter which allows me to skip the rolling and biscuit cutting step. I just spoon the batter onto the baking sheet for easy drop biscuits.

One batch yields 12 biscuits lasting us three days.  Each morning I fry eggs to go with the biscuit and make an extra egg to place in the refrigerator for ML to eat the next morning. He leaves too early for me to fix him fresh eggs each morning so this is as close as he gets.

When I blogged about my summer reading a couple months ago I mentioned falling head over heals in love with Lauraine Snelling‘s books.  Seventeen books in and I am almost through with the Red River Books  These books are set in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s on the Dakota Plains.   A time when farming was the way of life and baking fresh bread every day was the norm.  Well, I fell so in love with the characters and got so wrapped up in their way of doing things that I decided to try my hand at making Traditional White Bread from the same Betty Crocker Cookbook.  I don’t consider myself an expert at bread making by any  means but I do have a few tips to share.

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Kneading is key.

To avoid super thick and hard to chew bread KNEAD.  Knead that bread like you are mad at.  Knead the entire time the recipe recommends. It really is a good workout!  I put so much force into kneading my bread that my Fitbit actually counts it as steps and I don’t mind at all because it really is an arm workout.

My first loaf of bread wasn’t as soft as I was expecting but after a few tries I learned that the secret to soft bread is in the hands.

Start your bread early in the morning.

There’s a reason why in Lauraine Snelling’s books the women start the bread first thing in the morning… it’s because it takes a good portion of the morning to prepare and bake the bread.  This isn’t some toss it in a bowl and forget about it recipe.  While there are definitely times the bread is just “sitting” there you will discover much of your morning is spent working on the bread.  For me I find time for all that kneading between teaching different subjects in school to the girls.

Give it more than one try.

If your first loaf could easily place in a #pinterestfail competition don’t give up.  Don’t.  Give it another try. Reevaluate and take note of where you could improve. Maybe it needs less flour, more kneading, or longer to bake. Think of it as a science experiment and you are the scientist.

Store Tight

This isn’t your store bought bread that’s made to sit on a shelf for weeks at time.  This is fresh, simple ingredient bread so don’t expect it to last more than a week.  Store your bread tightly wrapped in cellophane in a cool, dark place.

My girls have fallen head over heels in love with fresh bread.  They love a slice for lunch with a little fruit and cheese on the side, a slice for breakfast with a banana, and a slice for supper to help sop up the leftover spaghetti sauce.

bread-02Esther claims that its the best bread.  I enjoy it too but most of all I enjoy the smell of it baking in our home and the feeling of accomplishment when I take the loaves out of the oven.

Much of the food we buy in the stores these days contains chemical after chemical and I just don’t have the time to research it all. Thankfully, there are sites like Positive Health Wellness who provide a variety of resources for people who are enthusiastic and passionate about being positive and healthy. Michael Luke and I believe there is a strong correlation between diet and health.  We believe it because we have seen radical changes in our own lives and in the lives of our children by gradually changing our diet over time.  I don’t know much but I do know that for centuries people have baked fresh bread from simple ingredients.  For a short while in the span of history bread has been mass-produced and traditional recipes have been altered to keep production easy and efficient and prices low.  During this time we have also seen a huge increase in gluten intolerance and a host of other gut issues.  I can’t fix everything from scratch for my family but I can at least bake them fresh bread.

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