27 January 2011

Making and Storing Bread

I love homemade bread.  I don't buy bread anymore, having a bread machine.  I usually use it at least three times a week.  If you don't have one, it would be a great investment.

Update: I am rethinking my love of bread machines due to the fact that they use a non-stick coating coating which is bad. I am continuing to use it for mixing dough, but then baking bread in the oven, to avoid heating the non-stick coating to high temperatures.

You can make bread without it, of course, but it's so easy and nearly idiot proof this way. The biggest step I find is in the grocery store.  Some breads have so many preservatives that they'll keep for months, and the healthier breads are quite expensive. Walk past the bread... don't stop, there you go, you did it.  Now go to the baking isle and pick up some fresh quick yeast, the kind in the little jar. Chances are, you have the rest of the ingredients already.

All that you need is a good recipe:

Sunflower Flax Bread

Some things I have learned are:
  • Don't mess with the salt. If it's omitted, you'll end up with a big bubble on the top of the bread.
  • You can always replace the butter in recipes with oil.
  • Always use warm water.
  • Remove from the pan, then leave the bread to cool on a rack before cutting it, for a nice texture. 
  • Change it up and mix up the bread dough on the dough setting.  Place it on a baking sheet, as a loaf or buns, sprinkle some seeds on top, let it rise a bit then bake it in the oven for a pretty "artisan" bread.
  • After successfully trying a recipe, play around with the types of flour and nuts, seeds and dried fruit used. 

I was using a lot of extra large plastic zipper bags, until I clued in to this. I don't know where I can find a proper non-plastic, inexpensive bread box these days, (I've been looking) but for now, I'm using a large clear plastic container, intended for storing rice or flour. I like that it I can see into it to see what's hiding at the bottom or if there is too much humidity. It's large enough to fit a loaf of bread as well as some pitas or biscuits.

Cutting it, just takes a decent bread knife and some practice in order to get nice even slices. There are better things than sliced bread :)

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