Mommy Cafe

Vegetarian home cooking, kid tested and approved

Homemade Bread

It’s been a while since my last post.  Life has been hectic, and many nights I’ve felt that getting any kind of dinner on the table was an accomplishment, even when that dinner was a frozen pizza.  Don’t worry, I’ve still been cooking real food for the most part.  Just with a little less creativity most nights.

However, I do have a little secret that I’ve been excited to share.  Are you sitting down?  Cuz this is big…

I’ve been baking bread!  That’s right, me, the woman who hates to bake.  It all started innocently enough with a craving for cookies.  A batch of my favorite White Chocolate Oatmeal Craisin cookies turned into a second batch of cookies to share with friends, and before I knew it my baking agenda also included homemade yogurt and an experimental loaf of bread.  For someone who doesn’t bake, it was certainly a full immersion… and it was a success!

I have not purchased a loaf of bread from the store in three months.  Now how, you may ask, can someone with no time on her hands manage to keep homemade bread in stock?  Simple.  I found a recipe that requires no kneading, just one rise, and a relatively short baking time (No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread).  While it does tie me to the house for a couple of hours, I’ve found it quite easy to start two loaves after dinner and have fresh bread cooled in time for a bedtime snack.

Even better news: the recipe is fool-proof, pun intended.  The first time I made it (and maybe a few times after that), the bread didn’t rise.  It was winter, and my house is a little chilly.  But instead of tossing it in the trash, I tossed it in the oven just to see what would happen.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was delicious!  Since then I’ve read, heard, or even come up with my own tricks to get a good rise out of my bread (ha! The jokes are just rolling in now!).

1. Don’t go out and buy a $250 KitchenAid mixer.  Also don’t use your cookie beaters.  Splurge and buy yourself a nice hand mixer with dough hooks.  A good mixer will bring your dough to the perfect consistency.  I found a Black & Decker for less than $20.  I’ve already recouped that money by not spending $4 a loaf every other week.

2. Turn on your oven for a few minutes and set your bread pans in front of the vent on the stove top where it’s nice and toasty.  Better yet, bake some cookies while the dough rises so you’re not wasting energy.

3. Heat cold liquids and use water that is closer to hot than lukewarm.  Your mixing bowls, utensils, and bread pans are all much cooler than the necessary temperature for yeast to thrive.  Pouring perfectly temped liquids into the cold bowls makes your liquids not so perfect anymore.

4. When the recipe calls for instant yeast, use instant yeast.  Nothing kills a bread buzz like having to wait an extra hour for the dough to rise.

I’ve tried a few of the King Arthur’s Flour recipes now, and they have all been fantastic.  I’ve never had a bad loaf of the No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread, other than the rising problem described above.  And the English Muffin Bread is amazing, especially when made with a little wheat flour mixed in.

So look around their site, try out a few recipes, and tell me which is your favorite.


April 26, 2011 - Posted by | Baked Goodies | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Yeah for you Becky! Warm, just baked bread is one of the best taste treats there is, and…the greatest scent to fill your home. Glad you found out that you can do it!

    Comment by mike swedin | May 1, 2011 | Reply

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