Bread Line

(This piece is updated from something I posted about 10 years ago on my old Livejournal page.)

I made this one couple months ago — by hand, not with the bread machine. And it was so, so good.

I bake my own bread.

If you don’t know me well, you’re probably now thinking I’m a Domestic Goddess. If you do know me well, you’re probably now chuckling at the thought of me as a Domestic Goddess. After all, I haven’t ironed since 1992. I’d rather make reservations than dinner. And my floors are a breeding ground for dust bunnies. Domestic is not my forte. But I do bake my own bread — and have, since long before the pandemic made it cool.

I’m not crazy. I lack the time, patience, motivation, and countertops for kneading dough. But I own an excellent bread machine — a Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme — and often experiment with different recipes and varieties of flour. I always use at least a cup of whole wheat or another whole-grain flour. For the rest I may use bread flour (much better than all-purpose flour), flax meal, cracked wheat, seven-grain cereal, oatmeal, spelt, or whatever other grains I have on hand. Or some combination thereof. Depending on the other ingredients, I may add a few spoons of wheat gluten to improve the texture; nobody in my house is allergic.

Sometimes I add potato flakes. If a sweetener is required, I usually go for honey rather than sugar. Some of my breads are fat-free; other times I use vegetable oil, butter, or margarine. Adding some amount of fat also helps the loaf to last longer without going stale. Now that I am an experienced bread baker, I often stray from the recipes and create my own combinations. I’ve also been known to add herbs: usually a little dried rosemary or basil.

Most recipes call for water or milk, but I often substitute different liquids for all or part of the water: carrot juice, apple juice, and vegetable stock add nutrition and flavor. It’s another small step in the constant battle to get vegetables and fruits into my son. I like using buttermilk in place of milk. But often it has to be buttermilk powder, because I like to pour the ingredients into the machine at night and set the timer to have the bread ready when I wake up. When I’m using the timer, I can’t follow a recipe that calls for perishable ingredients, because they’ll be sitting out all night.

And then morning comes, and I wake to the fragrance of baking bread, which fills the house for hours and tempts me downstairs to sample a slice.

It’s almost enough to make me feel, for a few minutes, like a Domestic Goddess.

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