There are new ideas every day-every hour-every minute. I pin and read and pin some more. However, how many of those pins just sit there-untried? I have allowed myself to become paralyzed by comparison to what others are accomplishing on their homesteads and in their lives.
We don’t raise our own sheep, shave them, card, spin and dye our own wool. So I can’t make that cute hat.
We don’t raise our own wheat so that we can harvest, winnow, store and grind it into our own flour. So I can’t bake that bread.
Snap out of it, chickie! We need to break that cycle! Nike says it best-just do it!
I make a lot of our own bread. It saves money, gives me some control over additives, and fills up the corners of our bellies in a most satisfying way. The Piper once even ground some wheat in the Wonder Mill so that we could have that experience. It took my brawny lad nearly an hour to grind a #10 can of hard wheat-even using the cordless drill to power the mill. If I limited myself to this method-we probably wouldn’t have fresh bread every other day. Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased that we now know how to grind wheat and I am also pleased that somewhere, out there, a dedicated housewife is grinding fresh grain and baking her bread. It just ain’t me.
Have you ever baked a loaf of bread? Let’s stop comparing ourselves to those stalwart DIYers and get our hands dirty-or doughy.
Next time you are at the market see if they have Hodgson Mills Whole Wheat Honey Bread Mix. Or any of their bread mixes-white, rye, 7 grain-whatever flavor you think your family would like. Ignore the price. This is an exercise. It costs $3.89 here in Ohio.
Ready-Set-Go! Bake that bread, Girlfriend!
Here is what it takes:
Just follow the directions. Pay special care to the temperature of the water that mixes with the yeast. This is one of the only hairy spots that could bust the Great Experiment. The water must be warm enough to wake up the yeast without killing the little critters. Just read and follow the directions on the box-this is why we all paid such close attention to word problems in math class (yeah, right).
You have every right to count this kneading thing as exercise today.
Now you put your dough down for a nap. For an hour or more in a warm spot, mine took 1 3/4 hours. My best spot, in the colder months is in a slightly warmed oven. We keep our house at 64 degrees, and that can be a bit drafty for the wee yeasties (can you tell I have been reading all of the Outlander series-from the beginning?).
Punch down-my favorite! After your dough has raised for an hour (or more), you get to punch it down and make it into a loaf. If you don’t have a loaf pan-do not panic, use a cookie sheet and make a free-form Artisan styled bread. I did not make that up-Artisan style is a real thing-Google it. And put the dough to napping again.
Then it is time to bake.
The first clue that you have indeed created a miracle will be the scent of fresh baked bread that will permeate your abode.The second clue is how beautiful that loaf looks.
Now, it is completely up to you whether you tell anyone that this all started with a boxed mix. Grandma Olive would not have told, she never would have lied about it, but she wouldn’t have told. And if you want all the glory-just keep your mouth shut. You can admit to it taking a couple hours, you kneaded it, you sang the yeasties a lullaby. You can’t tell this loaf from a scratch loaf.
If this is as far as you wish to take the Great Home Made Bread Experiment-fine. You can trot out your bread at your mother in law’s Sunday supper or a holiday feast. Most people will be impressed. On another day we will explore how to make the simplest possible loaf of bread-from scratch, because you already know all about,mixing and kneading and raising and baking. But for today, we are going to put this in our win column. We came. We saw. We conquered-BREAD.