I have been making my own bread for quite some time now, almost 3 years, if I had to guess. The decision to make my own bread came from a financial need rather than a health reason.
I know homemade anything is usually better for you than store-bought, but I make no claims that I had this burning desire to make our diet more healthy when I decided to make my own bread.
We had just bought our first house when Dan unexpectedly lost his job. This was in 2008 or 2009 when the economy was on its way down the toilet. We went through our budget with a fine tooth comb to find any place where we could cut back. Groceries is always the easiest place to cut back.
Beans and rice are pretty cheap, and they last a long time.
My nerd-y side came out, and I calculated the cheapest way to eat the things we wanted. Making our own bread was cheaper than 95% of the bread at the grocery store and it was WAY healthier. (Occasionally, crappy white bread was cheaper than my homemade loaves, but I wasn’t going to buy that anyway!)
**Step up on my soapbox…**
I may share sometime how we budget, because it may be helpful to some people, but I’d encourage you if you’re going through hard time to evaluate your grocery budget. I’m sure there is fat to trim if you are honest with yourself. During Dan’s brief time of unemployment, we saved more money than we could have dreamed possible. We didn’t save a lot of money because we had a lot of income or low expenses. We did it by buckling down and learning to be disciplined in our spending.
**Step down from my soapbox…**
I have been making this recipe of wheat bread for years. It was delicious. We liked it. I had my method for baking it down pat.
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Right?
I had been hearing about the book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, from several sources. The idea of homemade bakery style bread is intoxicating, yet scary. I LOVE a good crusty load of bread. However, learning new things can be a little intimidating, especially since I was very comfortable in the rut I was in.
I ignored this method for the better part of the year until I had the opportunity to pick up the book for free. To sum it up, it has changed my outlook on bread making completely.
I’ve only made the master recipe (a basic white loaf), but I cannot wait to experiment further. I think rye is next on my list.
I highly recommend picking up the book for yourself, but I’ll show you my first experiences here. It’s unbelievably easy.
The master recipe only has 4 ingredients. 4. Four. Quartro.
Flour, salt, yeast, and water. Can it get any more simple than that?
Want to know the craziest thing about the water? Temperature barely matters. The recipe calls for lukewarm or even cold water. The worse thing is too hot of water because it kills the yeast. This dough rises like crazy.
Are you having dough that doesn’t rise, and bakes into a brick? You may be killing your yeast with water that’s too hot.
Mix into a very wet, loose dough.
Pour into a plastic container for first rise and eventual storage in the fridge.
Now if your plastic container looks like mine with the dough in it:
Your container is too small.
This will happen in a short amount of time:
Ha! Oops! You will have to switch to a bigger container, and you will have one very sticky container to clean. Learn from my mistakes and start with a larger container!
After the first rise, the dough should look something like this:
Now the dough is ready for the second rise and baking or storing in the fridge for another day. That is what I love about this method, I can make enough dough for a couple weeks worth of bread and just leave it in the fridge until I need it.
I’ve been making free form loaves, but you could use a bread pan if you like. Here’s my first loaf on it’s second rise.
Cut some slits in that bad boy…
…and bake it!
Wow, can you believe I made that? I can’t!
This bread is just like bakery bread. It has a nice, crusty outside and a hearty, chewy inside. I was surprised how dense the loaf was. I expected it to be light and airy, but it wasn’t. I’m not sure if that means I did something wrong or if that’s how the loaf should be. I’ll have to read the book again to check that out.
Has anyone else tried this? Does my loaf resemble yours? Share your bread making experiences!
This post does not contain affiliate links. I’m not that cool of a blogger. I just really like this book, and I wanted you to be able to quickly see pricing info.