Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Experiment in Homemade Bread

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little more natural. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I've been increasingly drawn to the idea of baking the majority of the bread my family eats myself for several reasons including:

It's inexpensive: one or two loaves of healthy bread at my local grocery store easily costs the same as a bag of flour, a jar of yeast, and a shaker of salt. Also, compared to most crafty or foodie hobbies, bread baking-even artisan bread baking-is a pretty darn cheap way to express your creativity.

It's healthy: most of the reasonably priced bread at the grocery store is full of high fructose corn syrup and all sorts of preservatives and additives. Basic French bread has only 4 ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. Even quick bread and sweeter yeast breads tend to be healthier than their storebought counterparts, so while homemade cinnamon rolls aren't exactly a health food, they are likely to contain fewer bad ingredients than storebought pastries.

It's easy to customize: You can easily modify most bread recipes to include a variety of healthy and fun flours, grains, fruits, and spices. You can also easily avoid allergens and other ingredients you dislike or that cause you issues. For example, I'm lactose intolerant and sandwich bread (and many other breads) contain milk. By substituting lactose free milk or soy, almond, or coconut milk I can make delicious breads my stomach won't regret later!

It's delicious: homemade bread generally tastes better

So for a few weeks in December I tried baking all our bread myself and I discovered a few things:
  • It's really fun and easy to bake my own bread
  • My husband and son will both gobble down as much homemade bread as I'll give them
  • December is a terrible time to start a new project-even one that doesn't take much time or effort.
  • We don't need to eat bread nearly as often as we currently do.
Basically, it went really well until I got overly busy with Christmas. I underestimated how much time I needed to spend on sewing Christmas presents and we ran out of bread. No one even noticed for like a week, which tells me that we really don't need to be eating as much of the store-bought stuff as we had been, even if I don't make homemade to replace it. We can eat brown rice, pasta, & potatoes and have a much more balanced diet. And less high fructose corn syrup!

So my plan for 2012 is to eat less bread overall and make significantly more of it myself. In fact, to help keep myself accountable (and just for fun) I've decided to do a bread baking challenge in 2012: I'm going to attempt to bake bread 50 times this year and post once a week about the recipes I'm using. Sometimes I'll make savory breads that can basically replace store-bought sandwich bread or buns, and other weeks I'll do quick breads and sweet bready treats.

To kick it off, this week I made Whole Wheat Blueberry Oatmeal bread from the blog From Judy's Kitchen and here's how it turned out:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Blueberry Bread-yum!
Quick. Easy. Inexpensive.


What's your favorite bread recipe? Leave me a link or recipe & I'll try to make it sometime in 2012!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Very cool! My husband bakes bread here. He makes this wonderful cheese-and-mushroom concoction that's based off of 5 Minute Artisan Bread but then with his own twists, but he prefers (and Mikko, too, who helps!) to make just the plain kind a lot. So good warm out of the oven with lots of butter!

Are you going to put in your blueberry bread picture? :)

Crunchy Con Mommy said...

My husband hasn't gotten involved in the baking yet but I bet he'd love cheese & mushroom bread-and I actually have that cookbook from the library right now!

And I've been frantically been searching for the cord that goes from the camera to the computer to no avail for like a week. I may just have to rewrite so it's not obvious I left out a pic. Unless people read the comments. Lol. I'm actually still in bed snuggling my toddler, but once he's awake I'll resume my cord search!!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I love your challenge!! I would like to expand my homemade bread repertoire, I've only done one artisan bread and then the easy breads like pumpkin, zucchini, etc. I'll look forward to your posts!!

Amy G said...

I've actually being planning to do this same thing. Should save money for organic produce. I look forward to reading about your recipes. Are you going to try sprouting any of the breads? That's what I'm going to try to do. We'll see how it goes!

Lani @ Boobie Time said...

Love this challenge, Because I Love homemade bread your house must have smelled De-lish!

Crunchy Con Mommy said...

Yes, my house smells amazing anytime I bake bread! I love it!

I've actually never heard of sprouting bread before so I'll have to do some research on that one!

And I'm so excited to try new kinds of bread too, plus post recipes and pics of my favorites, like my Grandma's hot rolls :)

Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama said...

Whole wheat oatmeal blueberry bread!? That sounds too perfect for my family. I can't wait to try it!

I love making all kinds of bread in my bread machine, but I also really like this easy beer wheat bread recipe that I link to in this post: http://www.ithoughtiknewmama.com/2011/03/bake-your-own-bread/

Erica @ ChildOrganics said...

This is right up my alley. I LOVE making bread, though if you asked my husband he'd say many of my creations would more resemble a brick than a loaf of bread. :-) It takes a lot of experimenting, which I'm still doing.I think your challenge is great. My favorite is the 5 minutes a day with using a sourdough bread. Easy and delicious.

Tat @ Mum in search said...

Your bread looks awesome! I've tried to make bread a couple of times and the result was... not eatable ;(

Hybrid Rasta Mama said...

Love this experiment. I decided last year that if we were going to eat bread it would only be homemade. Guess what? We barely eat bread. Ha! I enjoy making it but I can never find the time! Glad that you enjoyed this experiment!

robbie @ going green mama said...

It's more for summer, but fabulous: Spiced zucchini bread. Don't let the green stuff get you down. :-)


Kate Wicker said...

We love homemade bread...

Pamela said...

The blueberry bread sounds amazing. I do make some of my own bread -- usually honey wheat. Spoils you for store bought bread for sure.

Minta said...

We started eating more homemade bread last year and it made a big difference both in the amount of bread we eat and the amount of money we spend on bread. I love making the bread, and it's so easy. I don't even consult a recipe any more. It's so easy to vary the fat/sugar/liquid based on what you have on hand, too! My family calls it "little red hen bread!"

Page and Katie said...

baking my own gluten free bead has been a huge $ saver. and you can make your own rice flour with brown rice grains and a coffee grinder. =)