The culmination of a few events led me to be a bread baking advocate.
Early conversations about bread baking deterred me from taking on this endeavor, such as the exchange with an old boyfriend who once mentioned that his mother was a baker. “…And you should see her forearms!” he said.
Large forearms from endless kneading? Seemed like something I definitely had no interest in considering, let alone doing.
Flash forward 15 years later to 2006, when my family relocated to Indiana, and I reconnected with an old college friend, who was a bread baker.
Visions of large, bulking forearms entered my head. Flour swarming in the kitchen, footprints on the tiles, signs of flour-streaked hair–or was that grey hair?
Bread baking–really??!! Are you kidding?
My girlfriend had 4 young, healthy, beautiful children who were involved in sports, school, church and community volunteer efforts, you name it–they were busy! Where did she find the time? And why bake bread?
She shared that her youngest daughter had become allergic to many foods and because of this, she began to bake her own bread in a bread maker. Well, I too, have a family member with food allergies, and coupled with a keen desire to improve the food staples in our family diet, bread baking was an intriguing option for me.
A bread maker? I had one of those, which I received as a wedding gift, and discarded 5 years later.
Hers was the “Rolls Royce” of bread makers, she claimed. A Japanese version with all the electronic innovations, including the capability to make a loaf that looked like a real loaf of bread, the ability to pre-program your own homemade recipes, and a delayed start so that you could wake to the smell of fresh bread in the morning.
She had me in the palm of her floury hand.
I became convinced that I would be able to commit the brief time and effort to prepare my own bread. Obviously, this machine required very little manual operation– layer the ingredients in the pan and push the little button. Voila! Fresh bread in under 3 hours.
My dietitian-mom brain started weighing the benefits of homemade bread, and the drawbacks. I could make whole wheat bread! The bread would have no preservatives, would use all natural ingredients, and would be hearty and filling. But, would my kids even like it?
Flash forward: I have been baking my own bread for about 4 years. In that time, I have bought a loaf of bread only in times of emergency.
I bake a honey-whole wheat bread, which is our family’s “everyday bread.” I bake a loaf about every 3 days.
My children love it, and so do their friends. They ask for it, especially if we have bought “emergency bread” at the grocery store. Our bread is part of our meals, and sometimes part of our snack. My children don’t eat too much bread, because our bread is a whole grain bread, and very filling.
I have been known to bring a fresh loaf to Girl Scout meetings, as a class snack, and as a house-warming gift. I have given bread away to celebrate an event, as a gift, or to families in need.
Homemade bread is special, whether it is kneaded by hand or baked in a modern bread maker. Bread baking can be easy, quick, and another way to build good nutrition and improve the quality of your family’s diet.
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