Baking my own bread

08 March 2018
When I was a kid I rarely ate bread. Growing up in a small rural town it was generally the generic fluffy white bread option and I just didn't like it. More specifically I hated the taste of the crust – it used to make me gag. So everyday I took my crispbreads and spreads to school in lieu of the standard 1980s sandwich for lunch. Toast was ok but 'fresh' bread – no way.

Sourdough fresh from the oven


The first time I tasted good bread was when I was staying with a friend's family in Canberra while doing a uni placement. Her mum was having mothering withdrawals and so looked after me rather well. When I got home from work on the first day she made me toast – woodfired italian bread toast. It was a revelation to me. The chewy texture, the crunchy crust, the actual flavour. It opened my eyes to what bread could be (later my palate was completely blown away when I first went to Europe and tasted all they had to offer). And so bread made its way back into my life.

I started baking my own bread about five years ago when I had begun my endeavours to make more things from scratch. I sampled a few different recipes and settled on this five-minute bread recipe from one of my favourite blogs. It made a great loaf, was easy enough to do during the week, around work and later with a new baby (well newish, I don't think I got back into bread baking for at least 6 months or so). I've since passed this recipe onto countless people who have expressed their interest in baking their own bread and it has been universally successful. Even for my mum who has been scared of cooking with yeast my whole life. So if you are looking for a place to start or have been thinking about making your own bread, even just occasionally, I can't recommend Rhonda's tutorial enough.

Tasty 5 minute bread


My interest was piqued in giving sourdough a try when I had a newborn. Hours on the couch feeding led to lots of reading of things that I wanted to be doing but wasn't – namely gardening and cooking. I lived vicariously through books and blogs (I always have and still do). Sourdough seemed the ultimate in making bread from scratch, paring things right back to the basics of just flour and water. When it comes to trying something new though I generally don't rush. Which in this case was a good thing seeing as there was no way I was going to be able to look after a starter and a baby at the same time.

Fast forward a year or so and I was ready. I'd over researched sourdough starters and beginner loaves and I no longer had a newborn on my hands. My friend gave me some starter. I killed it. Or thought I had at the time but in hindsight, and a few years experience with the occasionally neglected starter, I realise I probably could have coaxed it back to life. It was probably for the best though as I think actually making my own starter from scratch gave me a greater understanding of the flexibility of sourdough. Despite my extensive research into starting a starter I did what I always do and winged it a little. I wasn't exact with my daily feed measurements and I even used plain old all purpose no brand flour to start. It worked out and my original starter is still going strong.  I also must admit that in further bucking of my sourdough research I didn't even name my starter – every now and then I try and think of a fitting name but my starter remains nameless.

My nameless starter getting ready to do its thing.

Bread baking has become a part of my routine now. There are times when I bake more and times I bake a little less. Recently when we moved interstate I didn't bake at all for a few weeks either side – occasionally I remember to keep food prep expectations in line with what is happening in life. But I did put my starter to bed and bring it with me in the esky (along with a few other fermenting friends) and got back into things once the dust settled on our move. This year I'm planning to do a little more perfecting of my everyday loaf and also a bit of experimenting. I'm particularly keen to find a good fruit loaf and a sandwich loaf with a softer crust for my girls because they ALWAYS leave the crunchier crust behind. I'm no expert but I'll share a few of my bakes with you here in the hopes of inspiring you to give it a go and as a handy way to keep track of my efforts.

Are you a bread baking enthusiast or aspiring to be one?
Do you too research things to death before taking the plunge? Or do you take action first and ask questions later?
Have you got any go-to recipes that I should add to my 'must bake' list?

7 comments

  1. Bread baking in all of it's varying forms is an addiction to me. There.. I've said it, I'm a recovering breadaholic! I hardly eat bread, but I make excuses to bake it anyway and give it away if needs be. Sourdough is my constant challenge.. just when I achieve the perfect loaf and feel a bit smug that I've finally conquered the magic of it, I get a brick next time!! And yes, I can never read enough about bread. ;-)

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    1. It's so addictive Sally. If you had told me how much I would love baking and eating bread all those years ago I definitely would have scoffed. But now it's generally an every couple of day baking event here. I just pulled a loaf out of the oven actually as well as some rolls for dinner tomorrow night.
      I'm no sourdough expert so I can't offer any amazing tips but I did get a book for Christmas that I have been baking out of and it has not failed me yet (early days but I've been baking 3-4 loaves a week out of it for the last two months and so far so good). So if you can bring yourself to do a little more bread reading ;) check out the blog and book at http://www.theclevercarrot.com/ (if you haven't already).

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  2. I just saw the link to your new blog on Sally's so thought I would come over and say hello. My sourdough starter is called Gertrude and she mostly behaves. LOL! I make a couple of loaves each fortnight in bread tins, slice them up and then freeze them for toasted sandwiches for lunch. That works for us but I must admit I have become a little lazy with trying out different recipes lately and always stick to the same one from Chris from the Gully Grove blog http://gullygrove.blogspot.com.au/ Your blog looks great by the way.

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  3. Hi Nanna Chel and welcome. Oh, you are good to have a name for your starter - perhaps one day I'll find one that works (I blame it on being in the midst of naming humans at the time I first started out the I must have used up all my naming powers). I've just started trying out a few sandwich loaves after avoiding them for a while (I think the memories of sliced white bread from childhood are still strong!). I must check out Chris's sourdough recipes - thanks for the heads up and thanks so much for the comment.
    Cheers,
    Laura

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  4. Hi Laura, I just found you through Rhonda's blog. I'm an over-researcher! I've been mentally prepping for the sourdough breadmaking plunge for a couple of years, yet I just woke up one morning recently and went straight to the 5-minute bread and haven't budged. Now that it's becoming as routine as teethbrushing, I'm starting to think, "hmm...sourdough next?" It takes me quite a while to jump on the bandwagon!

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    1. All procrastiresearchers are VERY welcome around here. Look forward to hearing if you take the plunge on the sourdough. How good is the 5 minute bread though - it's like the gateway recipe to bread making.

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  5. Hi Laura, I also have popped in from Rhonda’s blog, love what you have written so far, looking forward to more! I am totally an over-researcher as well ( I much prefer this term to procrastinater). I’m also busy with 2 young kids so at this point I read a lot about other people’s adventures with sourdough, gardening etc. I do what I can - grow herbs, cook most of our meals from scratch etc but I have a lot of projects in my head just waiting to come out!

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's so great to hear from people who stop by and to know I'm not just talking to myself!

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