A hundred years ago, bread making was a daily chore for most families. Then, in the early part of the 20th century, bread making was taken out of the home and put in the factory. The general consensus became that making your own bread was difficult and time consuming.
Despite this misconception, most people agree that there is nothing like a fresh loaf of homemade bread made in your bread machine. But, the only time many people taste a fresh loaf is when they buy it from a bakery or dine in a restaurant.
Anyone who makes bread regularly knows that bread making is not nearly as difficult as commonly thought. The ingredients are simple and few. Making the dough takes no more than ten minutes and the rest of the work is done by the yeast. Once the bread has risen and is placed in the oven to bake, the whole house is filled with the most wonderful smell. That alone is reason enough to bake your own bread. But, if that doesn’t convince you, here a four reasons why you should give it a try.
Homemade bread is healthier than purchased bread
Mass produced bread is full of chemical preservatives. One simple truth about fresh bread is that it spoils fast. Without preservatives, a regular loaf of bread will last a few days, at best, if left out on the counter. But, chemicals, like calcium propionate, can help that bread stay mold free for eternity. Chemical preservatives are not natural. They are not good for your body, and worse, some people have reactions to preservatives. Hyperactivity in children is linked to preservatives, like BHA and BHT (source). Even breads that are made with whole grains and sold as healthier alternatives still list preservatives and other undesirable ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup, on the label. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity.
Homemade bread, without the chemicals of purchased breads, will spoil fast. To prevent this, yet still only have to make bread once or twice a week, simply put any extra loaves in the freezer. Keep one loaf out and ready to use. Before you go to bed, put a frozen loaf on the counter. It will be thawed and ready to use in the morning.
Healthy homemade bread is cheaper than healthy purchased bread
While it is possible to buy healthy, all-natural bread in a store, it is often prohibitively expensive. These breads can cost up to $4.00 a loaf, if not more. If you are feeding a family who goes through a loaf a day, this gets pricey. Even a wealthy family would have trouble affording bread at this price.
On the contrary, homemade bread recipes call for a few simple ingredients. Usually yeast, water, milk, flour, sugar, butter or oil and salt are all that is required. Even if you opt for whole wheat flour, which is typically more expensive than white flour, you will pay about $2.99 per 5 pound bag. Many loaves will come out of 5 pounds of flour. Yeast is the other modest expense of bread making. A three pack of Fleischmann’s active dry yeast costs around $1.50. Two packs of yeast are required for most two-loaf recipes. So, for $3.00 worth of yeast, you can make six loaves of bread. All the other ingredients are used in small quantities in most bread recipes and are things that the average person stocks in their kitchen regularly.
Homemade bread tastes better than store-bought varieties
Healthy purchased breads are often very grainy tasting. While many adults are happy with a hearty bread, children often balk at the taste and texture. Soft, delicious homemade bread can be made with whole wheat flour, white flour, or a combination of the two. Even homemade bread made with 100% whole wheat flour is softer in texture than most purchased true whole grain breads. Interestingly, many cheaper breads that claim to be made with whole wheat flour contain a small percentage of whole wheat flour and have added coloring to give the appearance of brown, whole wheat bread. These breads are made to be more palatable and have the texture of white bread, but they usually lack in the nutritional quality of true whole wheat breads.
Homemade bread is truly easy to make
Many people are intimidated by bread making, but it really is not complicated. The hardest part is making sure the liquids in the recipe are warm enough to activate the yeast, but not so hot that they kill the yeast. The best way to ensure this is to use very warm tap water and test it with your finger. If it feels very warm to you, then it is the right temperature. If it’s so hot that you can’t put your finger in it, it is too hot for the yeast. If it barely feels warm, then it’s not warm enough.
Kneading bread dough can be fun and a great stress reducer. But, if kneading is not something you enjoy, there are bread recipes that don’t require it. My favorite recipe right now, a classic from The Pepperidge Farm Cookbook (1963), does not require kneading. I mix the ingredients, stir for about two minutes and then let it rise for an hour.
Are you ready to slice into a fresh loaf of bread from your own oven? Try your hand at making bread and enjoy healthier, tastier bread each day in your own home.
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