Friday, April 16, 2010

Homemade Bread: A question for all you experts

My ward Relief Society had a "service auction" last month and I was lucky enough to win some homemade bread (see picture above) from my friend Katie.  (Yes, there are at least 3 Katies in my ward right now;  my friend who makes really good bread, the relief society president, and myself.  At least once I've gotten a call from somebody who thought I was the Relief Society president.  Anyway...)  Well, actually, the bread wasn't ready that night, so I guess I what I really won was the promise of some homemade bread.  Boy did she deliver on making all of my hopes and dreams about homemade bread come true.  I didn't know exactly when the said bread would be made and delivered, so I was very pleasantly surprised when Katie knocked on my door a couple of nights ago with two loaves of homemade bread in her hands.  One was unwrapped, sitting on a plate, the other was in a bag.  I thought that one was for me and one was for some other lucky person.  But they were both for me!  Oh, happy day.  I am a bread lover and I think we all know that homemade is the best.  Anyway, one loaf was bagged because it had been made previously and the other was on the plate because it had just come out of the oven and was still warm.  Be still my heart.  Katie gave me some brief instructions on how best to enjoy it, made sure I knew how to cut bread so I wouldn't smoosh the whole loaf, and went on her way, leaving me with two lovely, lovely loaves.  Mmmm.  I was already buttering my first two pieces of the fresh, warm bread when Katie called to say she had forgotten to tell me, but they usually freeze the second loaf so it doesn't go bad.  Uhh... go bad?  I told her I was already buttering my first two pieces and that if the first loaf wasn't gone that night then maybe we'd freeze the second loaf.  Well, I practiced some serious self-restraint and did not eat the entire loaf that night... even though I really wanted to.  But we finished off that first loaf today, so I guess I didn't restrain myself too much. 

So here's the thing.  The moment that wonderful, homemade bread came in the door I started thinking really ambitious thoughts like, "Oooh!  I should bake all our bread!  It would be so healthy and so much better than store-bought bread.  And la la la..."  Bryan's mom made homemade bread all the time when he was growing up and he got really excited when I mentioned my bread-making ambitions to him later that night.  But, for better or worse, Bryan happens to have a pretty good memory and pretty soon instead of day dreaming with me he was bringing up the fact that every time we've made bread before it always comes out really deflated and sad-looking.  Hmm... So true. 

So, here are my questions for those of you who bake your own bread:

1. Do you use a bread maker or do it the old school way?  

2. How long does it take you to do that?  

3. What are your feelings on the other method (i.e. how do you feel about using a bread maker if you usually do it old school and visa versa)? 

4. And, if you use a bread maker and you don't mind sharing, what kind do you use and how much did it cost?

Do tell.

P.S. Don't go crazy.  The winner of the free custom photo shoot from Marcie Jessee Photography will be announced a little later on today. 


Mego said...

My sister just blogged about bread too!! Check it out here
She left a new recipe on that post that looks good and easy. Good Luck!

Janie said...

1. I don't use a bread maker--I mix the dough in my KitchenAid.
2. Start to finish, it takes about 4-6 hours for the whole process (including rising and baking).
3. I've never used a bread maker, so I don't have much of an opinion. :)

Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

I have definite bread opinions. Maybe I should blog about how we make bread. We used a bread machine for a while, but switched to old school for several reasons. Maybe I should blog about making bread.

The things we didn't like about a bread machine: It only makes one loaf at a time. The loaves were funny shapes. They always had a weird gaping hole in the bottom where the stirring thing was. You still have to wash them. They only make one loaf at a time, and did I mention that they are weird shaped and leave a hole in the bottom?

Making them old school we make 6 loaves at a time, and it's pretty easy. If they end up deflated you're probably letting them rise too much before putting them in the oven. I set the timer for each rise, so it doesn't rise It takes me 3 1/2 hours start to finish, so you do have to plan a block of time to be home, but there is not much work to it during that time. It takes me about 1/2 an hour to mix the bread up. I let it rise for 1 hour and punch it down. Rise 1 more hour and put it in loaves. Rise 1/2 hour and then bake for 1/2 an hour. It takes 3 1/2 hours no matter how many loaves I make, so I make a lot at once. We usually don't freeze it, but by the time we get to the last loaf it's getting a little stale, but works great for french toast.

Lisa Lou said...

All I have to say is, my mom is the best breadmaker I've ever met. She even wrote out step by step directions for my dad and he's made it too. You can probably get those from her. I was actually just thinking about making bread like 2 days ago. Great minds think alike. But also, stupid minds think alike. hehehe. But we have great minds!

Karin van Dam said...

We bake our breads the old school way. We started with a bread making machine actually, but didn't like the bread that we could create that way. Somehow we were not able to make it work for us. So we switched to making the bread from scratch, kneeding with our hands and baking them in the oven. And to us, this is the perfect way. The children even complain when we didn't have time to make our own bread and use a baker's bread for a change. They want our own! :-)

Good luck with your bread baking adventures!

Linda said...

Ok, so thank you for reminding me to put a loaf in...the bread machine. It takes less than 4 minutes to get it going, then I get to ignore it for ...a few hours...smell it cooking, hear it beep, put it in a plastic container with a paper towel, let it steam and WE HAVE BREAD. The steaming makes it soft and we like that, otherwise, it could be tough.

Yes, that is why I use a machine. I thought I would be a REAL bread maker. I got a Bosch and everything, but we didn't really get seriously using all that wheat in the garage till we got our first bread machine, years ago. Most of the bread we have eaten since has been bread machined. It was the source of many school lunches for not much money, and many pizza crusts, and some cinnamon rolls.

The current machine was either one given to me, or one I got for $6 at Goodwill. Don't rush to buy, as there are many people just waiting to give you theirs...they feel guilty they don't use it. And you just might! ( try freecycle, Craigslist, or just mention that you are ready to try a bread machine to a few women...I have been given pretty much brand new machines...)

This one is a Regal Kitchen Pro, and I think it was a Walmart purchase.

We like it. I don't say it is superior to REAL BREAD BAKING but...this method happens, and that wasn't.

The secret is to keep playing with it...don't give up to quickly. I throw some soy beans in when I grind the wheat...just a handful. We toss in some old potato pearls sometimes. Up to 4 t. of gluten ( Walmart has it) and I use bread flour AND whole wheat. We aren't purist. ( 2 cups bread flour to 1 1/2 cup wheat flour...about)

Another key has been to have the bread machine and the "set up" on the counter, on a tray, to keep it ready to go any minute. A container of bread flour, wheat flour, salt, sugar, and powdered milk. Gluten and yeast in the freezer door in peanut butter containers, clearly marked.

If the bread falls, cut back on the water. You can find a way to enjoy a bread machine, just don't give up or be afraid of a few failures. Yummy. And if you have kids, it won't take them long to take over the job for you.

And get a good serrated knife or even use an electric one.

alee said...

1. I do it the old-school way (real old-school, not even a kitchenaid or anything...even though we have one)

2. It is super easy- I stir it up in the morning...punch it down whenever I am in the kitchen during the day...knead and put it in pans...let it rise in the pans for an hour...bake for an hour...done!

3. Definitely use an electric knife- it at least makes my life so much easier. :)

I guess I am not inherently against bread makers, but I am just not interested in using doesn't seem like it makes as good of bread and it almost seems harder to deal with them. My recipe makes 3 loaves at a time. (Actually it is my grandma's recipe) If you want it, let me know and I will email it to you. It really is pretty simple- you should give it a try!

Patricia said...

I've never used a "bread machine" that mixes and bakes all in the same machine.

I used to make bread kneading it by hand, four loaves worth, but have used a bread mixer, ie. Bosch or similar brand for years. I've had good luck with either way.
I usually use a little over half freshly ground wheat flour and the rest white and I put the bread directly in the pans after kneading for 10 minutes. Let it raise 30 min. and bake for 30 min. Two hours from start to finish. The loaves will continue to raise after you put them in the hot oven, so usually 30 min. raising time is enough, even if they don't look as high as you want.

If you use all white flour, let the dough raise 1/2 to 1 hour in the bowl after kneading and before putting it into the pans, but with the half or more wheat flour you'll get a better loaf if you put it right in the pans after kneading.

I like whole wheat bread, but the majority of the people in our home prefer a little white flour.

A little secret I discovered accidentally for making really soft bread is to add a little cooked oatmeal, about one serving worth, to the dough mixture before you add the flour. Dry won't do the trick. (Someone's uneaten serving is about the right amount.)

We eat one loaf right away, but I freeze the others after they are cooled and then they taste very fresh when we use them.

Anna said...

Yo. I am a complete fan of homemade bread. When I am not working I plan on going back to baking it. I would like to agree with Lisa that Trish's homemade wheat bread is the best I have ever had, and her directions have been fail proof for me so far.

My friend Becky (uh, I guess she is your friend too by now) has been experimenting with Trish's recipe. She has some baker-friend who has shown her how to make it just as light with all wheat flour, now white flour. I haven't tried it yet though.

By the way, I really visiting your blog and Bryan's blog every day. It makes me feel very involved in your lives still. Chris and I miss you a lot and we think you are way cool. Before bed a few nights ago Chris was casually making life plans that centered around living near you guys.

Uh, this comment is way out of control.

Kim said...

I bake bread the old fashioned way because I think it turns out better and I have more control over it.

It takes me about 2 hours 15 minutes if I let it rise twice. If not, I used rapid rise yeast and let the dough rest 10 minutes, shape, place in loaf pan and let rise abot 45 min. and bake for at least 25 min.

I think the bread machine works for some people, it just didn't do much for me.

The Jessee Journal said...

Um, I have nothing new to add but to second everyone's comments: The old fashioned way isn't as hard as it seems. I used to think people that made all their own bread were so ambitious and on the ball. I am proof positive that that isn't true. I simply started to save $10 a week on grocery store bread (which was quickly replaced with $10 a week in diapers). It doesn't take much time at all. I grind my wheat, mix it up, let it sit, set a timer to knead for 10 minutes and then let it rise for 30 min and then bake. That's it. My kids love helping with kneading and I usually make one batch of rolls and four loaves of bread from my once recipe. Thanks to gluten and dough enhancer it's as light and fluffy as white bread but without the refinedess of white bread :) I used to have a bread machine but I hated the hard, holey, one-loaf results. And that was a long comment for someone who said they had nothing to add ... :D

Katie Lewis said...

You all have so many wonderful pieces of advice to add! Thank you so much! Your comments make me feel like I might not be totally in over my head in thinking about baking my own bread. Perhaps we'll have to do some sort of bread recipe round up so you can all share your recipes. Hmmm...

Kathy Haynie said...

I suggest you do some bread baking with Dorothy while you're in town.

Holly Mayer said...

Here are my thoughts. I learned to make a few kinds of bread last spring. french bread and white bread. I have never used a bread maker because we don't have one. I love making bread. 1.It smells so good 2. taste is so good right out of the oven. 3. makes a great gift for VT or any reason. 4. cheaper! 5. You know exactly what is in it. 6. Arora loves to "help mommy make bread". She says this at least once a week. and 7. I personally get great satisfaction form baking/cooking. When you are here I will bake dome bread and you can try some.

Lisa said...

I'm not a baker at all, but I'm obsessed with my breadmaker. It might be cheating, but I love how you just throw everything in and it does all the work for you. I honestly have a really cheap crappy machine, but it works for me! I've been blogging about some of the breadmaker recipes on my blog if you're interested...

Sophia Crane said...

I do it the old fashion way 1 make 4-6 loaves for the same ammount of effort as two. It tastes better & it doesn't have a huge gaping hole in the middle. We usually make ours on a Sunday (every other week)afternoon when we are home anyway. It takes 4-5 hours, depending on how distracting the kids are. Usually though my son loves helping punch the dough. We also do 1/2 fresh ground wheat 1/2 unbleached white flour; that way it is not so dense.
p.s. another potential culprit to the flat bread might be old yeast. We had been given a large bag of yeast (think sams club sizing)almost 4 years ago and then a few months ago our bread was ending up flat we realized that our yeast was really old and wasn't rising as much. for some things this doesn't matter as much for for a loaf of bread you want it to rise nicely. Anyway, make sure you have good yeast & store what you have in the fridge or freezer it will extend the life.

The Hojnackes said...

I make bread the "old fashioned" way. I have a Kitchenaid mixer, so I don't even have to knead it by hand- although I sometimes do! It does not take long to start the bread. The recipe I use calls for 2 rises. So most of the process is just sitting around waiting for it to rise so you can move on to the next step. I think in all, it takes just under 3 hours. If you are at home all day, like I am, you just start it and once the initial 15 minutes (or less) of mixing is through, you can get some other things done. Then come back to it to shape the loaves for the second rise. Then you just pop it in the oven and wait till it is done. It isn't like you slave away in the kitchen for 3 hours.
I would totally use a breadmaker if I had one. I just don't see spending the money on it when I have other priorities for my money and I can do without.
Good luck!!

Amy said...

Hi Katie! Just now getting a chance to check out your cute blog.....I love Hotbread! I do both...make from scratch the long day project and also fill my bread machine for the wonderful smell of homemade bread to wake up to. I love only needing a couple minutes to load the bread machine and go off to bed....I take a hot loaf in to the temple workers every Saturday just melt over hot bread!
Anyway, both techniques are worth knowing....I get my round "R2-D2" style Welbilt machines at the thrift stores for $.50 to $6.00. I teach lots of people how to use them. I also use an electric meat cutter to slice the hot bread without mashing! Great trick! Ahhhhh the aroma is heaven!