Bread is probably my all-around favorite thing to do in the kitchen, which is why I have a lot of resources here in the arsenal that have to do with bread baking and the like. It’s a therapeutic experience for me; something about the mystery of the flour and the yeast, the rigidity of detail and technique, make it an artistic and rewarding adventure every time I set out to bake.
I’ve done a lot of experimenting in various types and techniques of bread – whole grains, sweet breads, flatbreads, sourdough– and although I’m much happier for having done so, I can understand why people quickly get intimidated or frustrated when they try bread for the first time. It’s not as mathematical as a cake recipe, not as impulsive and intuitive as grilling a steak. But fear not, foodie, because bread can be fun, it can be easy, and it can work with your schedule. Most importantly, it’s delicious, and you need to bake some.
Why is bread your next foodie project?
1. Grocery store bread is weird. Seriously– we don’t ask this question much, but how do they get sandwich bread to be so puffy and airy, and why doesn’t it go stale for weeks even though it’s already sliced into 100 pieces? “But Todd,” you say, “those are exactly the things I like about bread. Your critique is invalid.” Fair enough… many of us have a great childhood memory of an amazing sandwich of inspired-by- bologna circles and rubber cheese product between two spongy slices of wonderbread. But unfortunately we’re growing up and realizing that many of our childhood delights come to us via a confusing and disheartening process of manufacturing wizardry. So as we open our minds and palates to some more sincere and natural foods, bread is a great start.
2. Good bread is expensive. Some of us on the other end of the spectrum are spending seven dollars at your farmer’s market for a fresh-baked loaf of hearty goodness. That’s all well and good, and it’s a nice place to start. But considering we can often make that same great loaf for a dollar or two, I think it’s time to get our hands floury.
3. Fresh bread is a crowd pleaser. Admit it– some of the reason a lot of us cook is because of that weird combination of satisfaction and embarrassment we get when someone says “wait– you MADE this??” Bread is an easy win for casual dinners, potlucks, housewarming, you name it. A lot of people aren’t used to the richness and flavor of a piece of just-baked, warm-and-fresh, yeah-it’s-this-recipe-I-found-on-the-internet bread, and bringing that joy into their lives is a pretty simple thing.
4. It’s a pretty simple thing. I mean it. It’s great. Check around the arsenal for some ideas on getting started. If you’re already a bread lover, I’ll have some steps to take you farther. Enjoy!