A Year of Bread

This year my wife and I decided to bake all of our own bread, buns and other bread products. Both of us have baked a lot of bread over the years, and it was a chance for both of us to rediscover our skills, as well as to learn some new ones. It was also a chance to try and eat more healthy breads made with whole grains.

If there’s one thing we learned it’s this: homemade bread is hard to beat! Actually we already knew that, but this year of eating only homemade bread served to reinforce that fact. Both my wife and I did our fair share of baking, and we each used somewhat different methods and techniques.

My wife concentrated mainly on no-knead recipes from the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (HB in Five) cookbook. Some of my favorites were the Olive Spelt buns, the Chocolate Espresso muffins, and the Honey Raisin English muffins. I also love, love, love the Grissini she makes with the dough!

 

whole wheat Grissini

I used recipes from a variety of sources. I made a few of the same things over and over, like the Honey Flax Bread that we enjoy for sandwiches. It has such a nice taste and tender, even crumb. It made some great BLT sandwiches this summer.

whole wheat Honey Flax Bread

I also made a lot of Moomie’s Famous Hamburger Buns. They must be truly famous, because my blog stats show that a lot of people Google the recipe and wind up visiting this blog to check it out. As for me, once I tried this recipe it’s the only hamburger buns I made this year. There are a few other bun recipes I would like to try…someday.

Hamburger buns

Another bread I made a lot of this year was pitas. We love the Whole Wheat Pitas and use them for a lot of things, including Pizza. I also make spelt pitas, using whole grain spelt flour in place of the whole wheat flour in the recipe.

 

pita pizzas

I bake the pitas on a baking stone in a very hot oven. It is fun to watch them puff up!

pita bread in the oven

I also experimented with a few recipes that I only made occasionally (or once). The Mt Olive Rolls in the photo below were tasty, but the recipe was pretty involved. I think my wife’s no-knead olive rolls were better. They were certainly easier for me, since she did all the work on those!

 

Mt. Olive Rolls

One bread I will be making again was the Pain de Campagne. This rustic loaf in the photo below was a blend of whole wheat, rye and unbleached bread flours and had a wonderful tangy flavor. The recipe came from Rustic European Breads From Your Bread Machine. It was not actually baked in the bread machine, though it was used to ferment and knead the dough.

 

Pain de Campagne loaf

Another bread I want to make again is the 100% Spelt Bread I made using a recipe from The Fresh Loaf. This bread is made using a poolish, and the flavor was fantastic. Next time I will make it in an 8×4 inch bread pan like the recipe calls for. At the time I couldn’t find a pan that size, and used a 9×5 inch pan instead. As a result the bread shape was a little flat, but the taste was still great.

100% Spelt Bread

I also made foccacia, whole wheat French, and a few others that didn’t get photographed. What’s in store for 2011? We plan to continue baking all our own bread, building on what we learned this year. We do plan on experimenting even more with the no-knead recipes from HB in Five. But I will also be making more breads that are kneaded, using the bread machine and mixer to help. Our main goal is to make tasty, healthy homemade bread, and there’s plenty of different ways to do just that!

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16 Responses to A Year of Bread

  1. Our bread bible is Peter Reinhart’s “The Breadmaker’s Apprentice.” We also learned a lot from Brother Juniper’s Bread Book. Both are well worth having.

    Mostly I don’t use recipes when I bake bread. I’ve been doing it since I was five (no, really!) and I generally just put it together with an eye towards what I want to accomplish with that particular loaf. Or batch of loaves. I rarely make one at a time. Bread freezes too well.

    • Villager says:

      I’ve gotten a lot of valuable info from reading Reinhart. And you are so right about bread freezing well. We always have some in the freezer for the times we don’t have it fresh. I always make a double batch of pitas and freeze what we don’t eat that day. A frzen homemade pita is still wayyy better than anything from a store!

  2. That reminds me. I was going to bake bread today. Better get on that.

  3. kathy says:

    Thanks for all the links you posted here….those photos are awesome as I’m sure the bread was!

  4. Daphne Gould says:

    That is a lot of bread. I really need to get to the store and get some more flour. I’m out. Or at least out enough that I can’t make bread anymore. I made it twice in the last couple of days and used it all up.

  5. You inspired us to do the same earlier this year, although I only started baking ALL of our own bread products around August. We don’t have a bread machine any more, I got rid of it, just the mixer which works great. Bread making really doesn’t take much time out of the day, but I agree, the results are so much better than store bought. We mostly make sourdough, which we’ve done for years, and regularly make a honey wheat as a sandwich bread, but we also made pita and focaccia too this year, although the pita we baked in an outdoor pizza oven. I was worried the oven in the kitchen might not get truly hot enough, but I’ll have to try it next time to compare. My favorite recipe for 2010 though was Peter Reinhart’s cinnamon rolls, from the ‘Bread Baker’s Apprentice’ , just can’t make those too often, but they are divine! A great recipe when you know friends are coming over, so you don’t have too many leftovers! Another book I’m having fun with recently is Jeffrey Hammelman’s ‘Bread’. A nice diverse collection of recipes, and techniques. Might have to try braiding a few loaves in 2011!

    • Villager says:

      I’ve got to try those cinnamon rolls, and the bread as well! The BBA made for fascinating reading, and I look forward to trying more of the recipes in 2011.

  6. What a beautiful and inspiring post! I’m so excited about the book you recommended with no-knead recipes. I have some repetitive stress problems in my hands and arms and kneading is not a fun activity for me. I have a bread machine, but I think I’ll be getting this book to expand my repertoire!

    • Villager says:

      My wife has some wrist problems, and she appreciates the no-knead recipes. She uses the mixer to mix up the dough, which also helps make it easier.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. LynnS says:

    I’m glad to see that you posted a link to your Honey Flax bread post because I have had that in the back of my feeble mind to make soon. Your loaf of Pain Campagne is a work of art!

    What an inspirational post you shared!

    • Villager says:

      That Pain Campagne was very flavorful and a good keeper. I think it actually tasted better on days 2&3 than it did on the day I baked it. It made some tasty croutons for salad too.

  8. Mike says:

    Like Lynn, we are excited to try the honey flax bread. It sounds like something we would enjoy. We have made all of our own bread for a few years now but really need to branch out a bit in that department and try a few new recipes. Good job on all of the homemade goodness you have produced this year.

    • Villager says:

      Thanks, Mike. I like to experiment with different breads, but it’s also nice to have those tried and true recipes you can rely on!

  9. Thanks for the inspiration! I just bought the “Breadmaker’s Apprentice.” I’m an adequate bread baker, but I really want to learn the art and science behind bread. I’m going to work through the book this year, so please continue to share your bread making wisdom.

    • Villager says:

      Katie, I hope you get as much from the book as I did. And please post about your bread baking, I’d love to read about it!

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