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July 9th, 2012
Bread:The Staff of Life

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” ~ James Beard (1903-1985)

About a month ago I watched a River Cottage cooking episode featuring Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The entire show was about making bread. Mr Munro is a champion bread maker, and while we have homemade bread on occasion, we purchase bread on a weekly basis. After watching the show, I started to wonder. The price of bread in New Zealand has jumped during the last two years. It’s not cheap. What would happen if we made our own bread and didn’t buy any?

I thought about it for a few more days before mentioning the show and my idea to my husband.

“Okay,” he said. “We could try it and see how we go.”

Since there is only two of us, we’ve made bread about twice a week. It’s been a fun project and we both enjoy making bread by hand. The kneading stage is very therapeutic, especially after a crappy day at work.

We make the same basic recipe every time and vary the flavor additions. (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, onion, sundried tomatoes, olives etc) The only limit is our imagination. Sometimes we make focaccia bread while this weekend we made one loaf and half a dozen pull apart rolls. We’re finding the bread is staying fresh. It makes good toast, and it tastes good. Best of all we don’t have all the additives and extras commercially made bread contains.

Pull Apart Rolls & Loaf of Bread

Here’s Hugh’s basic recipe, which is quite similar to ours.

For one loaf or focaccia or to make half a dozen rolls:

1 Tablespoon yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/3 cups warm water

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Mix these ingredients together and let sit until the yeast starts to froth. This won’t take long if you purchase special bread making yeast from the supermarket.

3 cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

sprinkle of salt

Add the wet yeast mix to the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until a dough is formed. At this stage we knead the dough then cover with a plastic shower cap and leave to rise in the bowl. When the dough has doubled in size, we remove it from the bowl, knock it back, and place in a greased tin. Leave to rise again before cooking.

The cooking time depends on what we’re making, but we cook a loaf for about 20 – 25 minutes at 200C.

Note – Hubby always uses baking powder, but Hugh’s recipe doesn’t contain it. I’m going to try Hugh’s recipe next time.

Do you like fresh bread? Have you tried making bread before? What is your favorite type of bread?

14 comments to “Bread:The Staff of Life”

  1. Whew! Glad I came back. The post didn’t come up for me at first.

    Actually, this happened a couple of times with other posts. Maybe I’m too fast on my clicking finger. :)

    I love to eat fresh bread, but baking is not my forte. If I can get hubby to bake, I would be a happy camper. It’s an excellent habit.


  2. Maria,

    My host has been giving me problems, and I swapped over to a new one this morning. I think that’s probably the reason why you couldn’t find me.

    My hubby is the bread expert in our household too. I have no problem with that :)


  3. I love fresh bread, but I haven’t made any in a long time. Actually, I have a bread maker when I used to make it. This post makes me want to bake some this weekend. I’d never have time to do it during the week.


  4. Brinda, that’s the only thing with bread. You need time and forethought. We’re getting a good system going though. Of course it helps that I’m at home most of the time.


  5. Oh I can never get enough of fresh bread. There is something that makes it more yummy because you made it on your own. Will have to try this. Thank you.


  6. It’s so satisfying eating things you make yourself. I get the same pleasure from grabbing herbs or veges from the garden even though hubby does all the hard work.


  7. There is nothing in the world as wonderful as the smell of bread baking, so many memories.


  8. The scent of bread is an evocative one. I always love walking past Subway when they’re baking bread.


  9. We have worn out four bread makers so far and rarely eat store bought bread except when visiting. It’s great to wake up in the morning to the smell of freshly made bread.
    Our staples are light rye and wholemeal, but we’ve tried a whole range of recipes, with a dried fruit loaf our special treat.
    The weakest part of the bread maker is the small bearing/seal around the paddle shaft and replacing them is as expensive as a new bread maker.


  10. I like a loaf of bread with fruit too. We don’t own a breadmaker. I’m a bit weird that way. I like all sorts of gadgets except kitchen ones. In the kitchen I like to do everything manually.


  11. I tried making bread by hand and it always came out too hard for some reason. Then my mom bought me a bread maker about 10 years ago and I love it! I tell everyone that they should get a bread maker, especially if you love fresh baked bread.

    I’ve used my bread maker to make white, wheat, raisin and cinnamon bread as well as dough for cinnamon rolls, and pizza dough.


  12. All the cinamon bread sounds delicious. You’ve obviously got great use out of your breadmaker. Hubby and I were discussing them tonight.


  13. Fresh Bread! My mom used to make it all of the time. My favorite was Bulgar Bread because it was so filling and I loved when she added sea salt on top! My husband is the chef in our house and I’m trying to get him to try his hand at some breads. We bought a bread maker but so far he’s only made a few of the white. I’d like to get into some of the fun ones too or maybe do some the old fashion way by hand. Those pics looked yummy!

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  14. Sea salt on top of the bread is an excellent idea. Something for me to try!