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Bread Baking Fulfills a Great Knead
I'm baking bread again. It remains to be seen whether this is a good thing.
I get into these bread-baking jags, you see. I'll go for months at a time buying bread at the store, and then realize we don't really have all that many choices despite the ever-increasing length of the baked-goods aisle.
You can get the stuff that tries to fool you into thinking it's healthy by calling itself whole wheat when really, it's just Wonder Bread with a suntan.
You can get the whole-grain, nine-grain-and-a-handful-of-seeds stuff that is healthy, but is about as palatable as particle board. Actually, particle board makes better toast.
You can buy the designer bread, made with only the finest flours and clear well water at quaint little bakeries, where, I guess, it is handcrafted by elves -- elves who charge about five times what you'd pay for a loaf of regular bread.
And then you turn down the baking supplies aisle and you see all the flours lined up there, and the packets of yeast, and you think, "Why am I buying bread? I could make my own. Homemade bread. Yeah, that's the ticket."
That's the way it works for me, anyway, every six months or so.
Now, I know what you're thinking. This is where I launch into one of those stories about grandma and mom and the smell of homemade bread wafting through the house while the candlelight gleams through the sycamores and all that Hoosier Heartland jazz, right? Wrong.
Oh, they baked bread once in a while, but mostly we got it from the Nickles bread man. This was back in the days when one guy with a truck would deliver bread to 100 customers, instead of 100 customers driving 100 cars to the grocery store. See what they're charging for gas these days and tell me which makes more sense.
Anyway, I started baking my own bread in earnest about when I was in my whole grain/crunchy granola/long-haired lippy-hippy phase. I baked flour power loaves that were dark, dense and heavy. Especially heavy, man. I thought they were terrific, but you can judge for yourself. Next time you're at my mom's house, look closely at the replacement bricks in the foundation.
Eventually, like most whole grain/crunchy granola/long-haired lippy hippies, I got over it. I kept on baking bread, through - white, whole wheat, rye and occasionally pumpernickel, which as we all known is German for "burned."
Then I stopped. Got tired of it, I guess - until I had a piece of store bread that was just disgusting. So I went back to baking my own. Until I got tired of it again. And so on and so forth, up and down the roller coaster, right up to this morning, when I threw together a couple of cottage loaves. Why? It seemed like it was time to start baking bread again. Also, I was out of bread and didn't feel like putting on shoes to go to the store.
So now these big, round loaves are in the oven and, as I said, it remains to be seen whether that's good. Sometimes when I'm coming off a store-bread spell it takes me a few loaves to get back in the groove, but that's ok. If I can't eat them, they'll still be good for something. I'm thinking whole-wheat paving stones.
© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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