Now I'm making some real bread, man.


Rustic Bread

UPDATE: I've found a better, easier way to make a real loaf of bread. All you bread experts may have wondered why I didn't just make an Artisan Bread...that's because I didn't know! Now I do, thanks to America's Test Kitchen. The Rustic Loaf recipe was theirs, and I found this other recipe for a high-moisture content, practically no-knead, bake-it-in-a-dutch-oven Artisan loaf that is so much easier, and just as satisfying. It's the big pic now in this post.

I've been in business for myself for a long time, so I've been through a handful of these pain in the arse recessions. After the first couple, I now expect them to come along from time to time, but I still don't enjoy the hit we all take when they roll in.

This time I decided to bypass the economy and make my own bread directly. No, I don't mean counterfeiting. I mean bread making. Real, honest to goodness, homemade bread from scratch. Yum...

Roll, bread, scratch...the puns just keep on coming.

I tried one of the standard, in-the-loaf-pan white bread recipes that are billed as easy and quick...and the results were disappointing, chewy, grainy, and had to be toasted and slathered with butter to make them tolerable. OK, so that's yummy, too, since,'s got the butter!

My second attempt was just what I was looking for. I found a Rustic Country Loaf recipe on the net that is almost everything you want in a bread. Fluffy, nutty-tasting center, due to some added wheat and rye flours, and a thick, crispy oven-baked crust.

I've made a few of these lately, and the whole family is overjoyed when the loaves appear in the kitchen. I'm getting pretty handy whipping one of these up without much fuss. This is a 5½-cup bread, and our old KitchenAid standing mixer strains when I make it do the kneading for me. I'm secretly hoping it burns out so I can get an industrial-strength model. Argh, argh...power!

Italian Batard

For a change, I tried making a white loaf again. I found a recipe for an Italian Batard. That came out terrific, too, but was much more work, and needed my attention more often over the course of the 16 or so hours of mixing, kneading, rising and baking that ensued. Most of that time is an overnight step, but it is still a little nerve-wracking to nurture through. With practice I hope to get this one down to second nature, too.

I've found that, since these real, old-fashioned bread recipes take real, old-fashioned time, I have to schedule the preparation tasks around the events of my typical daytime routine. It helps that I can work at home, but I still have to plan ahead for when I will not be around to punch, pinch, and bake. Otherwise things will fall flat. And so will everyone's disposition at the disappointment of no fresh bread to eat.

Making some real bread again is satisfying. While eating it I wonder what the heck is the matter with the human race. Why did we invent an economy, which, when it falls flat, is such a disaster for all of us?

We could just sit around making bread, then eating it, slathered with butter.

But then, I wouldn't be telling this tale to you via the internet, the result of many a century of progress beyond sitting around eating bread. And of course, there's that electric standing mixer I've been using.

OK, so maybe I'm a little full of it. Bread, I mean.


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