I have a confession to make and hopefully it won’t cause me to lose my relatively small fan base here at Cooking up a Story (Thanks for reading Mom). I don’t usually buy organic bread. There I said it, I’ve been so wrapped in up eating seasonally and buying locally that I forgot all about the bread factor. When it comes to my bread purchases the focus for me is always making sure that I buy the loaf made out of Whole Grains or one with high fiber content, I fail to look for the labels that say “All Natural” or “Organic”. Not to mention that there is a whole other dynamic that goes on in my household where my husband (get ready for it) still eats WHITE BREAD. I’ve made some serious head way with his eating habits but this is one he stands firm on. He has a real fear of Whole Grain bread.
Once discovering this major faux pas in my buying habits I quickly tried to remedy it. I found myself pretty disappointed with the selection at my local Supermarket and since the nearest Whole Foods or Trader Joes is almost an hour away I quickly thought to myself, “you can always buy organic flour and make bread”. I’m not new to bread making, I owned a bread machine once (pre-culinary school) and I used to help my grandmother make scones, dinner rolls, and buttermilk biscuits growing up but I’m not particularly good at it. Loaded down with every type of organic bread flour imaginable I headed home to knock out a few loaves. While driving home I began to have flashbacks of culinary school and the inedible bricks of bread that have since followed. Like many I was notorious for overworking bread dough, I just love the feel of bread dough.
The next thing I needed was a fool-proof recipe. I pulled out my copies of The Bread Bible, Baking with Julia and How to Cook Everything along with clippings from newspapers and magazines. I then recalled that gem of a book I reviewed a while back, Artisan Bread in Five minutes a day. I remember when I received my copy of the book, for about two weeks straight I was a bread baking fool, testing the authors’ version of the now infamous no-knead process. But soon I had another book to review and put an end to all of those crusty Boules my family had quickly gotten used to. I put the other books away (Sorry Beth, Julia, and Mark) and went back to the process that was most successful for me. The first few loaves weren’t that great, not sure what I was doing wrong but they just weren’t as tasty as I had remembered but by the time loaves five and six came out of the oven nearly a week later, I was seeing some definite progress. My three year old really seemed to like all the bread baking as well, I think she knows the smell because whenever there is a loaf in the oven out she comes from wherever she was hiding and sits on the kitchen floor waiting for me to pull it out of the oven.
Feeling pretty confident and quite full of myself I decided to try my hand at making some sandwich bread for my husband. This recipe was such a hit I fear his Wonder Bread just won’t do anymore (YEAH!). I have committed myself to making bread every other week, however as wonderful as homemade bread is it doesn’t have the shelf life of the store bought stuff. So to supplement I will keep loaves of store bought organic bread in the deep freezer.
* I used King Arthur Organic flour in all of the recipes mentioned.
So tell me, do any of you bake bread on a regular basis? Have any good recipes or tips to share?
Next Time –- It’s Not easy Being Green: More dirty little secrets from my Sustainable Kitchen.
Heather Jones is a wife, mother, freelance food writer, and graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She has worked for Gourmet Magazine, TV Personality Katie Brown, and the New York based Indian-fusion restaurant Tabla. Heather resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters. She is a strong supporter of the Sustainable Food Movement and believes that education is the key to making a difference.