When people hear that we don’t buy bread — we make it fresh almost every day — they wrongly assume that someone is spending a lot of time in the kitchen. But I’m sure I spend less time baking bread for the entire week than most people spend standing in line at a fast food restaurant for a single meal. How do I do it?
- Originally, we had a bread machine, and I’d still use it except that it died after 17 years of faithful service. But it only takes about 3 minutes to put all the ingredients into the machine and press, “Start!” Set the timer, and you can have fresh, hot bread waiting for you when you wake up in the morning.
- When the bread machine died, I bought a stand mixer. It takes about 3 minutes to put all the ingredients into the bowl, flip the switch on, and then turn around and do something else in the kitchen while the machine mixes and kneads the dough. I add flour as needed, and when it’s just right, I turn off the machine and let the dough sit there for an hour or two. Whenever it’s convenient for me, I flip the switch back on, and it knocks down the bread and kneads it for a couple more minutes. I turn off the machine and repeat if it’s still a couple hours before dinner, or I put the dough into a pan if it’s time for the final rise.
- I mix up two or three loaves at once and only bake what I need today. The rest of the dough goes into the refrigerator after the first rise. Doughs made with unbleached flour can be put into the frig in a buttered or oiled bowl. If you want two or three rolls with dinner one night, simply pull of a couple little balls of dough and place them on a baking pan. Or put a big hunk of dough into a bread pan to make a loaf. Before refrigerating doughs made with whole grain flours, put them into the bread pan in which they’ll be baked because whole grains seem to have a bit of trouble rising after being in the frig. They will rise in the frig, and they’ll bake beautifully as long as you don’t knock them down after taking them out of the refrigerator and expect them to rise again.
And that’s it! By incorporating one or all three of these ideas, you can have fresh, hot bread as often as you want. If you want to get started with a simple, four ingredient French bread recipe, click here!
Do you have any tips for incorporating bread baking into your life easily? Be sure to leave your ideas in the comment section!