beginning · sustainable diet · zero waste

Baking your own bread

I have a bucket list in my bullet journal and number 25 on that list is “Learning to bake bread”.

And now that everybody’s staying home, me included, guess what I decided to try.

Yeah. I now consider myself an expert on baking bread. I’m not, but after regularly baking bread over the past three weeks, it sure feels like I am.

Obviously, once I realized how easy it is and that I’m actually pretty good at it, I wanted to share my experience on the site. But I wasn’t sure in what form I should do it.

At first, I thought I would include the recipe I am using, but there are hundreds of recipes for bread out there, between sourdough bread and regular yeast white bread, and everything in between in so many variations you could bake a different kind of bread every week for a year and not run out of ideas. The fact that I didn’t feel like translating the recipe from Polish did help me make the decision to discard that post idea.

And so, I settled for simply sharing my experience. Here it goes:

Prep

First, I had to decide what kind of bread I wanted to make. At first, I wanted to try sourdough bread, as I follow zero waste chef on twitter and she’s an expert on that topic. But making a starter always seemed kind of scary, not to mention time-consuming. I know myself well enough to know I needed a quick win if I wanted to turn baking bread into a recurring event in my house. So it had to take less than a couple of hours from start to finish. If I had to wait days for the starter to mature, I would lose interest pretty quickly. So I decided to try my hand at a simple recipe for wheat bread using yeast.

I found a simple recipe online, copied it to Google Docs for easy access, and printed it out, so I have a hard copy version I can prop up on the kitchen table and not worry about screen blacking out at a crucial moment when my hands are covered in dough.

Baking

Getting all the ingredients was surprisingly easy – I heard rumors that yeast was hard to find, but I found it in the first supermarket I tried during a regular Saturday shopping trip. I couldn’t find the special bread-making flour, so I got a different one and hoped for the best.

Mixing it all up was easy, though kneading the dough was tiring. I decided to do it by hand, and by the end of it, I was exhausted. Though the second and third times were much easier – I think because I knew what to expect. I followed all the instructions and much to my satisfaction, the bread came out great. Sure the top was harder than the bottom and it looked darker, but the bread itself was delicious.

Still to come

I want to learn to bake different types of bread, and maybe buns as well. And, at some point, I should probably calculate how expensive my home-made bread actually is. Maybe I could switch to making bread completely? Given that the bakery I use is quite ways away, maybe that would be a good solution (especially during the pandemic). And baking my own bread would probably be more environmentally friendly, cutting down on waste… There’s a lot to think about and possibly some changes for the future.

What about you? Have you tried baking bread? How did it go? Let me know!

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