I’ve been baking my own bread off and on for a couple of years now, ever since I bought a breadmaker. I liked the ease of the breadmaker, but with a 4 hour cycle I would often think “hmm, I’d like some bread” but didn’t want to have to wait that long so I just wouldn’t bother (and it didn’t keep well). I could have mixed it up at night and set the timer, but in our small home it would invariably wake me up when it started whirring away at 4 am. Anyway, I managed to break it a few weeks ago when I attempted to make spelt bread.
Spelt does not have gluten, which means it doesn’t rise. I should therefore have been suspicious when the recipe I found online didn’t call for wheat gluten, but it was my first attempt at using a bread recipe other than those in my breadmaker’s user guide, and my first time baking with spelt flour, so I hoped for the best. The rock hard dough was too much for the breadmaker’s motor and one of the hooks that attaches to the paddle-turning thingy ripped almost right off. This was a thick chunk of metal, my friends! Anyways, the spelt bread was a dud (and not just because the paddle broke) and from then on I had no breadmaker.
I decided to try the “5 minute bread” I’d been hearing about. These two books, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, provide readers with a “master recipe” that one can draw on for up to two weeks. This means you skip half the breadmaking process on bread-day. A four-hour process is reduced to less than 2 hours and that I can handle. Plus, there is no kneading involved so making your bread each day is easy-peasy.
I started with a recipe that came in my Mother Earth News magazine. It was a whole wheat recipe and was very simple to make (once I’d gone out and bought wheat gluten, that is). It has taken me some time to perfect the actual bread-baking because the oven in our new home runs very hot. I’d end up with bread that baked too fast – the crust would be too hard and dry and the insides were doughy. I’ve been trying lower temps and today I tried 400 and ended up with a pretty-close-to-perfect loaf. I suppose I’m still not “up there” with the true breadmakers who knead their dough and start from scratch each morning, but we go through a lot of bread in this household and if I’m to ever meet my lofty goal of not having to buy store bread I need something I can handle. I’m going to order the books soon so I can try other recipes. I’m hoping to find something that would make good sandwich bread for kids – light, with a softer and thinner crust.