Baking Bread

Over the last couple of weeks, I have started to bake bread. It started with a resolution to pack a lunch, which I have not done consistently since University. It brings back memories of Men into Space (see also the Wikipedia entry) and the lunch box I carried to grade school.
I was finding that I was not consistently eating the bread I bought at the supermarkets. The slices are light, suited for toast, not necessarily for hearty sandwiches.
Jean Paré’s “Company’s Coming” cookbooks are becoming like Louis L’Amour’s gunslinger romances. They are sold in grocery stores, kitchen ware stores and hardware stores like Canadian Tire more than in regular bookstores. Most of the books are bound in with plastic combs or coils, which means the books lay flat on a counter – a huge convenience in my opinion. I had a couple already and found them handy, and simple. More on that another time. Her books are being released in a new printing and I leafed through a copy of the 38th printing Muffins and More, the third book in the original series, which was first released in July 1983. The emphasis in the title should be the “and More” because it has recipes for bread, fruit and flavoured bread, buns and rolls, as well as muffins.
Her recipes all use baking powder and baking soda, rather than yeast. This means mixing dry ingredients and wet ingredients, pouring it into a baking pan and baking. This avoids the kneading and rising involved in baking a yeasted bread. The results are good in my experience. The wheat bread is good, the raisin bread is very good.
The Paré book is good enough, but there are other options. I found the new edition of the Tassajara Bread Book to be quite useful, with detailed instructions and good illustrations of a process that was unfamiliar to me (I swallowed my indiffererence to the Zen proselytizing to get the advice). The results are good, but there is a lot of time and a fair amount of work involved in kneading and triple rising. It works well on a morning devoted to chores or reading, where I can work around the requirements of coming back to the loaf several times over several hours.
There is no clear financial advantage or disadvantage. A 2 kg bag of flour runs around $5.00 and can produce about 5-6 loaves, but the cost of other ingredients, energy and hardware has to be taken into account. If you buy larger bags of flour, there are savings. The bread, if one avoids the pitfalls of the process, is worthwhile.


2 responses to “Baking Bread”

  1. Mike N. Avatar
    Mike N.

    I used to bake a lot of bread, many years ago. I can’t remember the last time I made any with yeast. It was too much of a time commitment. The baking soda breads are much easier and faster. And I think I like them better, especially when they are right out of the oven with some butter. Yummmmmmm. Man, now I’m hungry.

  2. Garth Danielson Avatar
    Garth Danielson

    I haven’t had any home made bread since the 80’s I think. Someone had a bread maker. Ever use one of those? Kind of odd but they seem to work. I mostly eat buns instead of bread. More crust I guess, diffenent taste. I do like the local tasting bread for toast, but I don’t have that often enuf to get through a loaf before it’s ready to go out to the squirrels. I particularily like giving them large pieces of stale bread. I had this pan of buns that were all attached but not very good. I left the uneaten ones out for a couple weeks and when it was pretty hard I left it where I leave food for the squirrels. It was funny watching them pull this larger than they were pile of bread. It’s like if you were trying to eat a piece of bread as big as your bed. I have some buiscuits that I am saving for next winter. they are over a year old now. Soon squirrels, some real hard buiscuits. I don’t remember Men In Space.