Monday 25 May 2015

An Empty Belly

Can there be anything more welcoming than the smell of fresh baked bread? I missed out of living in a bread baking household by one or two generations. By the time I came along, bread was delivered door to door or widely and cheaply available in grocery stores. Mom didn’t have the time to make bread, clean the house and put in eight hours a day working for wages. We had store bought bread.

I suspect that my mom and dad both grew up eating home made bread, simply because it was cheaper to make your own. Their parents lived through the great depression and those people knew how to stretch a dollar. Fresh baked bread was an advertising slogan, not a reality for me. Whenever I was lucky enough to have fresh bread, it was a treat to be remembered.

Louise will always make a special Easter Bread every year. It is sweet bread and I look forward to the house smelling delectable a day or two before Easter each year. It tastes so good that it rarely lasts much past our big family meal. The kids who pass on taking home a couple of pounds of turkey or ham (bastards), are more than willing to take a slice or two of Mom’s bread (bastards). I can’t blame them, but I really do.

A number of years ago we bought a bread making machine because we had heard great things about them. The stories were true and for the most part bread machine bread was just delicious. Not as good as Louise’s Easter bread, but good just the same. Too good in fact, because we (read “me”) could go through a loaf of that bread in a day and I have the stomach to prove it. The machine will mostly sit in the basement but on rare occasions when the mood strikes, I will bring it up and two hours later I will be having a steaming piece of bread slathered in butter.

Two or three weeks ago I decided that I would try to make bread the old fashioned way. I would use a recipe, loaf pans, quality ingredients and our oven. It turns out that bread made that way was quite tasty and still managed to fill the house with a wonderful smell. It is also much cheaper to make your own bread than buy it. I can make about 16-20 loaves for less than ten dollars.

There is a down side to making bread this way. It is labour and time intensive. It’s not so much labour, because the actual time involved in mixing and kneading couldn’t be more than a half hour, but in the waiting time. Close to four hours is needed from start to finish. You can see why busy moms would prefer to just pick up a loaf at the store on the way home from work. Retired guys can just plan their day around bread baking. It gives a sense of accomplishment without actually having to do too much.

I will continue to bake bread for the near future, just as long as I am having fun doing it.

You should give it a go if you have a few hours to kill and an empty belly to fill.

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