DIY Bread for 90 days

Call me an old-fashioned homespun girl, but I love the idea of making your own bread. I know you can buy a great variety of bread everywhere these days- even Target has crusty French ‘baguettes’! But you have to understand, I’m not a talented girl, I can’t dance or sing well, I don’t know how to ride a bike and swimming is still a new skill for me, but darn it, I bake good bread. Even my mistake breads are tasty. So I thought about an interesting challenge for me- I would bake all our breads for the next 3 months. It came to me when I was researching some bread recipes for my bread class with Jun and I came across the easiest, most straightforward bread recipe there ever was from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio book. His basic bread recipe is actually a ratio that was quite easy to make and most importantly, easy to modify for my needs.

This project started in mid-March and I’m now on my 6th loaf of bread. Each one is slightly different based on what our menu happens to be, for example, on Saturday the weather was balmy and we felt like having barbeque, so I grilled some flatbreads to go with our Mediterranean grilled vegetables and flank steak. Voila! Just like that, we had Greek-inspired flatbread sandwiches. Today, I have a boule that I’m baking in my Martha Stewart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven for a tasty crust. I threw in some sesame seeds and wheat germ into the dough just because I feel a sense of guilt eating plain white bread these days (unless it’s a baguette, of course!).

Week 5, 4/19/11- I am in the midst of undertaking some serious bread-baking. It seems some of my friends tasted a loaf I made for a friend as a house-warming gift and suddenly, I have an order for 4 loaves of bread plus whatever we need here at home. And the four loaves have to be delivered this Friday. To say the least, I am a bit on edge with the prospect of baking a large amount in my regular Hotpoint stove. Today I’m baking two baguettes . I made a couple of baguettes last Saturday and now recall some lessons from this particular recipe- the dough is wet and the use of fresh yeast seem to add to the moist dough.

Week 17, 6/9/11- I am now into the 5th month of baking our own bread plus some extra for friends and family. It’s been fun and actually kind of addicting- I am finding it difficult to buy bread from the grocery these days. I’ve posted pictures of the different breads I’ve made for my family and friends- they all share a similarity- crusty, spongy and dusted with flour. My next challenge with bread is going to be far more experimental- I have decided to make bread using my own sourdough starter. The starter has been hybernating in my refrigerator in a glass jar with a piece of cheese cloth tied over it with rubber band for more than months now.

Week 25, 8/2/11- I must say that I am enjoying this whole bread-baking initiative. It’s incredible how much we don’t miss store-bought bread and how easy it is to fit into my schedule. I’ve also discovered that making my own bread is more economical since a 5 pound sack of flour is about $4.o0, almost what I would spend on a good loaf of artisan bread. A sack of flour yields about 3 loaves of bread, depending on the recipe, so I feel like I’m making a positive impact on our weekly grocery bill.

Here are pictures of the breads I’ve made in the last few months.

homemade buns

homemade boule

whole wheat walnut bread

oatmeal bread

whole wheat boule with seeds

grilled flat breads

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