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Homemade Bread September 8, 2006

Posted by Laura in Family, Farm.
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One of the best smells in the world is fresh bread. I’m not sure why that smell is so appealing. Maybe it represents “home and hearth,” “mom and apple pie” –that ideal of coming home to a lovingly cooked meal, happy memories of times around the table with family, or maybe lost priorities from bygone days.

Whatever it is, I really enjoy it. I have been baking bread off and on since high school. My favorites are yeast and sourdough, but we make and eat a fair amount of “quick” types like banana bread, too.  (Atkin’s Shmatkins-  pfft!).
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Last week, I made a new sourdough starter. (The old one had been neglected, turned dark, and had the potent smell of “spirits” from the fermentation action. It may have been fine, but I didn’t want to take any chances. It went in the compost).

For the uninitiated, a sourdough starter is a liquid active yeast mixture that can be used as leavening for many kinds of bread. It is basically a flour and warm water mixture to which yeast has been added. The yeast continues to multiply as long as it is “fed” carbs and kept at a lukewarm temperature. To make a batch of bread, you remove a portion of the starter, add your other ingredients and let it rise. You replace the used portion with more warm water and flour.

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We are becoming more and more interested in healthy homegrown food. I really wanted to grow the grains we would use for bread this year, but the seed just didn’t get planted. We are making due with what we can get from health food stores.

Typically, we use whole wheat flour and some combination of the following other ingredients, depending on the use of the bread (sandwich, breakfast toast, cinnamon rolls, etc.): millet, oats, amaranth, quinoa, cracked wheat or wheat bran, milled flax seed, buckwheat flour, barley flour, rye flour, or sunflower seeds. We may add spices like cinnamon, basil, dill, or fresh rosemary, too.

Tuesday was a bread baking day. We began in the morning by creating a “sponge” of newly fed starter, just as Carla Emery describes in her wonderful, must-have book The Encyclopedia of Country Living. (Sadly for all the homesteaders out there, she passed away last September).

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After a several hours, it was bubbly and aromatic. We added the other ingredients, kneaded it (the kids’ favorite part), and let it rise. It wasn’t until the following morning that the bread was ready to bake.

Sourdough takes some planning and patience. But that’s okay- fresh cinnamon bread with butter smeared on top is worth waiting for. The four of us ate half the loaf right out of the oven for breakfast. The only thing that would be better is if we had made the butter from our own cream. (I keep hinting at getting milk goats or a dairy cow but Joe pretends not to get the hints. I think the bottom line is that he won’t commit to anything that lactates except me! I’ll just count my blessings that I am excepted from that rule).

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Comments»

1. Grams - September 8, 2006

Yum!!!
I will need to time my visit with bread-baking day!

2. Sheryl - September 12, 2006

Nice entry, Laura. Such good things for the kids to be learning. I bet they already bake better than I do. I did ok on a 2-layer heart-shaped Duncan Heins cake the other day, but hats off to you.


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