By Fredrica Syren:
Did you know that bread requires only four ingredients — flour, yeast, water and salt? So it’s mind boggling that almost all breads sold at grocery stores contain a number of additives … which are not all food, by the way. It’s a sad fact that packaged bread is not as good as we might think and may contain scary additives, some that may indeed be harmful to human health.
For example, in store bought bread, you might find azodicarbonamide, the same chemical found in yoga mats and rubber soles, and linked to asthmatic and other allergic reactions. Many of the breads also have added sugars, artificial flavorings or coloring and GMOs. Flour in white bread may have been treated with chemical bleach. Also found in bread, calcium propionate is a preservative that keeps bread fresh for much longer than bread without any preservatives. This chemical has been linked to ADHD and stomach ulcers.
How is this allowed? The problem is that the FDA, the agency responsible for ensuring the safety of most packaged foods, does not require testing of new additives before allowing their use in food. So, basically, we’re the guinea pigs and they will not issue a warning until we get sick from it.
You can bet that, with three kids and two adults in our family, we eat lots bread each week. After discovering that finding good, tasty bread without any preservatives is super hard, I’ve gradually started baking our own. These days, I would never consider buying bread again. Good reasons for baking instead of buying it are that it tastes substantially better than store purchased bread, reduces preservative intake, supplies more nutrition, and costs less. My family absolutely love home baked bread and prefer it to store bought.
The only thing is that, since homemade bread does not contain preservatives, it goes stale very fast, so it needs be consumed within days or placed in a freezer. Once you get used to baking and start doing it on a regular basis, I recommend investing in a heavy-duty mixer. I received a Kitchen Aid as a wedding gift 16 years ago and still use it. And it’s as good as new.
To be a successful baker, you need to have time, space, a good oven, a few kitchen items and a good recipe. Bread making is easy, and I have found that the simplest recipe makes the best bread.
To make a delicious loaf at home from scratch, you need this equipment:
- One large mixing bowl
- One spoon
- Measuring cups
- One measuring spoon
- One bread pan
- One hand towel
Here are two of my favorite bread recipes:
No Knead Bread Loaf
This is very tasty bread that is fast to make, so it’s a prefect beginner’s bread.
- 2 Tbsp. flax seed
- 3 Tbsp. sesame seeds (save some for sprinkling on top)
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup grated carrots
- 2 cups spelt flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
Preheat oven to F 400.
Mix flax seeds, sesame seeds, oats, salt, spelt flour and baking soda in a large bowl. Blend yogurt, grated carrot and maple syrup, and add slowly to the large bowl, blending until you have a sticky batter. Pour into a well greased loaf pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 70 minutes or until center is dry.
White Bread Loaf
This bread is perfect for toasting.
- ½ package active dry yeast
- 3 cups white spelt flour or all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Sesame seeds for decoration
- Milk, enough to brush dough
Combine yeast, salt, sugar and flour in a large bowl or mixer. Combine water and oil, and add to flour mixture. Really work the dough well until it lets go of the bowl. Add more flour if dough still feels sticky. Sprinkle some flour on top and cover bowl with a towel. Leave in a warm, draft free place to rise for 30 minutes.
Knead dough for a few minutes on a surface sprinkled with some flour. Shape dough into a loaf and place in a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with a towel and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to F 450. Brush the loaf with milk and sprinkle sesame seeds over it. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until loaf is golden brown and seems hollow.
Let it cool before slicing.