Bread – My Latest Obsession

So to be honest, we are not a big bread family. That is, the “we” that doesn’t include the French hubs who would become a baguette if it were really true that eating too much of something had transformative powers.

I buy a loaf of bread here and there mainly to use for packing lunch on the two days my kiddos go to school. And of course there’s the occasional baguette for nights when soup or pasta are on the menu.  But other than that, you could say our house was a bit bread deprived.

So why the recent fascination, you ask?  Well, if you have read through any other parts of this blog, you may recall that Jen Hatmaker (in her book 7) and Michael Pollan (in his book Food Rules) have had quite an impact on my current food musings. Hatmaker, in considering bread writes this:

“Consider a loaf of bread, one of the “traditional foods that everyone knows” . . . As your grandmother could tell you, bread is traditionally made using a remarkably small number of familiar ingredients: flour, yeast, water, and a pinch of salt will do it. But industrial bread—even industrial whole-grain bread—has become a far more complicated product of modern food science (not to mention commerce and hope). Here’s the complete ingredients list for Sara Lee’s Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread:

Enriched bleached flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid], water, whole grains [whole wheat flour, brown rice flour (rice flour, rice bran)], high fructose corn syrup, whey, wheat gluten, yeast, cellulose. Contains 2 percent or less of each of the following: honey, calcium sulfate, vegetable oil (soybean and/or cottonseed oils), salt, butter (cream, salt), dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, ascorbic acid, enzymes, azodicarbonamide), guar gum, calcium propionate (preservative), distilled vinegar, yeast nutrients (monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate), corn starch, natural flavor, beta-carotene (color), vitamin D3, soy lecithin, soy flour.”

Ok, if you skimmed over that the first time, read it again and let it really sink in.  TWENTY EIGHT INGREDIENTS!  That’s an atrocity.

So I, like many of you reading probably, had the old bread machine sitting in my pantry taking up space and collecting dust.  I hauled it out and decided to give things a go

Well, that was 2 months ago and we haven’t bought bread from the store since.  I’ve explored a lot of different recipes and I’m happy to report that there has only been one epic fail.  All other loaves, on the whole have been pretty tasty.  But the first recipe I will share is pretty amazing.  It’s a cinnamon raisin loaf, but I have found that cranberries make it equally delish.

I know what you’re thinking about now. “Really, make my own bread?  Like who has time?  Major hassle.”  So here’s the deal, I have timed it and I can literally toss the ingredients for a loaf into the old bread machine in the 12 minutes it takes me to hard boil a batch of eggs.  So then the family has nice homemade bread to go with their little hard boiled eggs in the morning and it literally only costs me 12 minutes of my existence.

So step aside, 28 ingredients, here’s what we put in our cinnamon cranberry bread.

1 Tbsp oil

1 1/4 c. warm water + 1 Tbsp. warm water

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. maple syrup (the real stuff)

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 c. oatmeal

2 c. whole wheat flour

1c.+ 2 Tbsp. white flour

3/4 c. raisins OR cranberries

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

Place everything in the bread machine in the order listed.  When you get to the rasins / cranberries, outline the bread pan with them, meaning, sprinkle them around the edges.  With the yeast, poke a little hole into the dry ingredients with your finger and pour the yeast into this hole.

Bake on the basic white selection and set your machine for a light crust.  Trust me, the aroma that fills your home is worth it in and of itself.  And the added bonus is the 17 ingredients you WON’T be consuming while enjoying this bread!


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