Sliced bread is undoubtedly a good thing – it saves time, and the effort of kneading. But it’s a real shame that so few of us get to taste the yeasty deliciousness that is home-made bread. And that’s where Home-Made Bread Day comes in!
The origins of this Day are shrouded in mystery, but its purpose and benefits are obvious. The invention of the bread-maker has taken a lot of the effort out of baking, meaning that there is no reason why everyone shouldn’t enjoy home-made bread, which is often of much higher quality than the stuff you can buy in a shop. Home-baked bread is often healthier, higher in fibre and lower in salt and additives than commercial varieties, and the recipe can be modified to suit the maker’s tastes, with grains, spices or other additions.
Consider investing in a bread maker, or borrow a friend’s to get baking for Home-Made Bread Day!
Here’s an easy home-made bread to bake:-
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 cups warm water not over 110°F
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups All-Purpose Flour
- cornmeal or flour for dusting
- boiling water
In a large bowl mix together the yeast, sugar, salt and water. Let this stand until the yeast is dissolved. Gradually add the flour, one cup at a time to the liquid and mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead. (This may be a little messy, but don’t give up!)
Knead It: Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself towards you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this process in a rhythmic, rocking motion for 5 minutes, sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent sticking. Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the mixing bowl with a few drops of olive oil (preferred) or non stick baking spray. Knead the dough again for 2 to 3 minutes.
Let It Rise: Return the dough to the bowl and turn it over once to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel and keep warm until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.
Shape it: Punch down the dough with your fist and briefly knead out any air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape into two Italian- or French-style loaves. Place the loaves on a cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the loaves rest for 5 minutes.
Lightly slash the tops of the loaves 3 or more times diagonally and brush them with cold water.
Place an aluminum roasting pan on the bottom of the oven. Fill 1″ deep with boiling water. Slide loaves onto baking stone* in a cold oven. Bake at 400°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
For a lighter, crustier bread, let your shaped loaves rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven and roasting pan with water to 500°F for 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with cold water, place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400°F and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
* If you don’t have a baking stone, you are welcome to try using a flat cookie sheet. Please note your bread will not have as nice of a crisp crust.
NATIONAL HOMEMADE BREAD DAY ACTIVITIES
Pull out a favourite family recipe or find a new favourite in a cookbook or online. And while you’re at it anyway, make more than one loaf!
Invite a friend over
Whether they act as a sous chef or simply a happy taster, food is community. We’re drawn to feed those we love, and National Homemade Bread Day is all about sharing the love.
Use the freezer
Once your bread has cooled, store a loaf (or even a few slices) in a freezer bag with all the air out. Freezing your bread will let you indulge in the fruits of your National Homemade Bread Day labor long past its typical expiration date.