Fall is typically a great time to do some baking and there nothing quite like the taste and smell of homemade bread!
Check out this episode of our podcast for our discussion on all things bread, or read on for a summary of what we discuss on the show!
Why Bake When You Can Buy? The Benefits of Baking Your Own Bread
You Control The Ingredients
One of the biggest benefits of making your own ANYTHING is that you get to control what goes in and what you keep out.
Shelf brands typically have a lot of preservatives. Your homemade bread can have as few as 4 ingredients; flour, water, salt, and yeast.
You can also customize your bread by adding any other ingredients you want.
Without all of those icky preservatives and additives, your bread just tastes better.
If you’re comparing the cheapest white bread you can find at the store to homemade bread, the difference in cost probably isn’t that impressive.
However, when you get into artisan and organic breads, which can cost you $4 to $6 at the store, making your own will definitely save you money. Even if you buy expensive organic nuts, seeds, grains, and other ingredients for your bread, your cost per loaf will still be less.
The Smell Of Freshly Baked Bread in Your House
Who needs a fake scented candle when you can have the REAL smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your house?
Will I Need a Lot of Weird Ingredients to Bake My Own Bread?
Nope! The 4 main ingredients for bread are flour, water, salt, and yeast. Anything else you choose to add is up to you.
All bread is a twist on these original ingredients. The best way to see what you like is to make a basic loaf a few times, and then start subbing different flours or adding mix-ins like jalapenos, olives, or dried fruit.
Let’s talk about the main ingredients a bit more:
Yeast is necessary for your bread to rise. Of course, there is bread that doesn’t contain yeast, like banana bread. These are called quick breads, and we could do a whole separate podcast just on them (and we probably will!).
There are two main types of dry yeast:
- Regular Active Dry – This yeast needs to be mixed with warm water and allowed to sit for a short period of time in order to activate the enzymes. This is called “proofing.”
- Instant Yeast (aka Fast-Rising, Rapid-Rise, Quick-Rise, or Bread Machine) – This yeast activates more quickly and doesn’t have to be mixed with water to get it going. It can be added right into your dry ingredients as-is.
There are other types of bread leaveners, such as sourdough starter, but we’re going to keep it simple for the purposes of this “101” article.
While any all-purpose white flour will do, there are some other types to consider that are easy to find and can help you customize your bread.
Bread flour adds a bit more “chewiness” to your bread due to its higher protein content. Protein is needed to produce gluten, which gives bread its chewy texture. There are both white and wheat versions of bread flour.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is a bit denser than white flour so you would not just want to do a 1 for 1 swap for white flour in a recipe. Most recipes for wheat bread actually call for both types of flour.
Strolling down the flour aisle at your local grocery store, you’ll find quite a variety of different flours. Until you get some bread baking experience, you’ll probably want to avoid swapping these into your recipes.
Later on, you can always experiment with flours such as rye, oat, etc.
Bread Baking Supplies List
We’ve broken our supplies out by “essential” — what you absolutely need — and “optional.” Items on the optional list are nice to have and may make your bread-making experience easier, but you can totally do it without them.
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing spoon
- Pan (loaf pan for making traditionally shaped loaves, or cookie sheet for making hand-shaped loaves)
- Parchment paper
- Bowl Scraper
- Bench Knife
- Silicone Mat
What about Bread Machines? Do I Need One?
No. You don’t need a bread machine to make your own homemade bread; however, it can make the process easier for you.
Bread machines do most of the manual work of making bread (mixing, punching down, kneading) and can even bake your bread if you want. This means less time spent making your bread and also less cleanup.
Additionally, most bread machines have multiple settings for different types of dough and baked bread to help ensure great results every time.
How to Store Homemade Bread
Because homemade bread doesn’t have all of the preservatives found in store-bought bread, it won’t last as long.
Expect most homemade bread to stay fresh for 2-3 days.
Bread likes a cool, dry place. Heat and humidity will cause bread to mold more quickly.
When you take your bread out of the oven, place it on a cooling rack to allow the bottom to stay dry as it cools.
Once cooled, store in an airtight container. Most resources say to use plastic wrap, but here is an article from Litterless.com with a tip for storing bread without plastic.
You can also use a bread box to keep bread dry and cool.
We hope this has inspired you to try making your own homemade bread. There really is nothing like the taste and freshness of bread baked right in your own kitchen!
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Recipe of the Week
Thanks for listening!
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa