Sunday, November 12, 2006

Originally uploaded by rowdyman.

I've never claimed to be able to cook or bake only to be able to eat. Yet, when I watched this video for a simple bread recipe on, I could barely believe what I was seeing. It's just a traditional water/flour/salt/yeast bread recipe.

I guess watching Mom bake bread for all those years, it just seemed kind of a big production and a lot of work. Even today when I tell people I was raised eating my Mom's homemade bread they are usually surprised. For urban folk, nothing could be easier than buying fresh baked bread - it's so easy that no one thinks twice about paying $3-$5 for a loaf. A neighbourhood is often graded on it's proximity to a good bakery. Our area, in particular, is embarrassingly rich in the fresh rye bread department. I met one neighbour who sighed, "Finally, there's somewhere on Roncesvalles to get a baguette." So, the thinking goes, why on Earth would you want to bake your own bread? It would take years to perfect and who has the time. Well, it appears, time is all you need. About 12-20hrs worth. Of course, you could do a whole bunch of things during that time. This recipe really only takes about 10mins of your time - the other 12 or so hours, the dough you make is doing all the work itself. Basically it shows how Bread Making machines work. There's really nothing to it - by that I mean, why own a bread making machine when you already own one - your very own oven?

The feeling of satisfaction of popping fresh bread out of the oven on a Sunday morning is unmatchable. Not to mention the affect of telling someone, "Yeah, I made this bread... no biggie." It's funny, re-reading the recipe now, it seems a lot more complicated than what I did. I just watched the video and did that. Mixed the ingredients on Saturday night, plopped it in the oven the next day. It's great and is almost like a sour dough (I suppose the whole 'natural sponge' thing is at work here). I actually went online to check out some forums (uh oh, BREAD GEEK ALERT) and I guess, using plenty of water and leaving the dough for longer, more like 18-20 hrs. even gives a better result.

I like that this is such an 'olde-tyme' traditional recipe, but it's so foolproof and no-fuss that it's completely anti-Martha Stewart. Bake and be joyful, and hopefully we can all break bread together soon.

PS. I noticed that this was the most e-mailed article on NYT the day it was posted, so I'm obviously not the only one fascinated with easily baked bread.