We don't eat a whole lot of bread around here, but when we do, we want it to taste good and be free from unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients. Most commercial breads are nothing I would consider feeding my family. Even though bread requires no more than flour, water, salt and maybe yeast, the list of ingredients on the average bread package is usually long and includes things like trans fats, HFCS and vegetable oils. Artisan breads may be made with better ingredients but can be quite expensive.
The solution, of course is to bake my own. I tried a bread maker for a while, but didn't like the texture. A friend gave me a recipe that made two loaves at a time of excellent bread using the food processor. Even so, I was never able to stick with it long term. I'd make bread regularly for a few weeks, but eventually I was back to buying from the store or a local bakery and spending far too much money.
In the past year, I've resorted to buying bread only a handful of times. Now we have fresh baked bread any time, any day - for dinner after a long work day, or for breakfast on a busy morning.
I realize I'm blowing my reputation here as being so together and organized - but it's too good not to share. My 'secret' is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Now I mix up a batch of dough in a few minutes that will supply us with fresh bread for the next two weeks.
I often shape it in the evening and leave it to rise in the refrigerator overnight so we have fresh bread for breakfast. Baking in the early morning was especially helpful in the hot summer months. Now that it's Fall, though, I'm looking forward to thick slices of fresh bread, dripping with butter alongside a bowl of one of our favorite soups. It's not bad toasted with more of that butter and honey or homemade jam, either.
I did make a few adjustments to the recipe to suit my family and conditions. For now, I'm using the following proportions:
6 1/2 C flour - roughly 2/3 unbleached, unenriched white flour and 1/3 whole wheat (I know, I know, but notice I said 'for now' )
3 C filtered water
1 T yeast
1 T sea salt
I bake it at 450 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Instead of a pan of water in the oven to get a crisp crust, I bake mine in a covered casserole with the lid on for the first half, then remove the lid for the remainder of the time.