I have been baking bread in some for or another since my teens. As a child my food allergies made it necessary for my parents to make our bread to avoid the cottonseed oil that inhabited all purchased bread back in the 60′s and 70′s. I fondly remember my parents’ Sunday afternoon ritual of making bread together. They would grind the wheat, mix by hand and then laboriously knead the huge batch of bread. Dad would kneel on the floor with the large bowl of dough in front of him, he would work the dough pushing down, flipping, pushing down some more until it was just right. Mom would clean up while dad kneaded. All the while they would visit about bread, kids, and what they had planned for the upcoming week. These are some of my fondest memories…
Over the course of my married life I have dabbled with making bread. I would go in spurts, baking regularly and then falling back on store bought bread which was less time consuming and much less messy. As time has gone on I have come to realize the importance of real food. Food that is not baked days or weeks before purchasing. Food that is not made with ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Food that is fresh and made from scratch in my own kitchen…
About a year ago I challenged myself to make our own bread…all of it. No purchased bagels, hamburger buns, rolls…nothing that I have not made myself. Now with 5 kids, 4 of whom are of the male persuasion, this is a larger than life challenge. We go through 12 loaves of whole wheat bread, 2 large pans of sticky buns, 3 or 4 loaves of banana bread, and 4 pizza crusts each week . I make this every week in two different baking sessions.
This holiday season it will have been a year since I challenged myself. We have not purchased regular bread but I have to admit to purchasing hamburger and hot dog buns when we have has large gatherings at the cabin. Making buns for 50 people has been beyond what I seem capable of. Other than that we have been ‘store bought free’.
Keeping my pantry well stocked with different whole grains for grinding is a time-saving key. I love to experiment so I have many different organic grains ready in 25 and 50# quantities on the floor of my pantry ready to be put to use in new recipes. I have hard red and hard white wheats, rye, oat groats, cracked wheat, and corn all ready to be freshly ground. I also keep a large quantities of oil, vital wheat gluten, yeast, salt and honey.
Although I make much of this by hand I do use my Bosch bread mixer for my whole wheat bread that we use for sandwiches and toast. I adore the memory of my parents kneading by hand but you won’t catch me on the floor with a big bowl of dough…if for no other reason than my floor is not nearly as clean as my mother’s was!
I also use an electric wheat grinder. I have seriously thought of purchasing a hand grinder but haven’t been able to justify spending the money even knowing how much the kids would get a kick out of it!
Come back next week and I will share a few of my very favorite recipes and cookbooks as well as tips for involving the kids in the whole messy but oh so yummy bread baking adventure!
Kim can also be found raising organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids and a camel over at the inadvertent farmer