In our home freshly baked bread, or more often, so far, biscuits, is a kind of glue that keeps us together, or maybe it's grease to keep us running smoothly. Either way, I serve it with soup or stew and we have both mush and something to chew on. It leads to happy homeschoolers and a happy family :-) You know, there's a reason why baking bread is the number 1 item on Julie's 10 Point Bluffers Guide to Being a Homeschool Supermom. And I'm pretty sure it applies equally to being a non-homeschooling supermom. The only problem is making something baked in time for lunch while juggling things like blog writing and homeschool support tasks. Should you be game for the challenge though, I do have a few suggestions.
I tend to subscribe to the theory that variety is the spice of life. There are tons of fine recipes available on the web, but I still think it's better to have a tried and true book you can pull off the shelf when you're ready to dig into the flour pot. It wouldn't be enough for me to master making one kind of bread, therefore "Flour Cooking Naturally" has been my bread bible. I only use two other books for bread-like baking. One of them is a Betty Crocker booklet which I got for 10 cents at a garage sale and the other explains how to make tortillas.
Early on in my years of independent living I somehow acquired a small set of essential cookery books which have followed me everywhere. It's a plan I'd recommend. Using this book you can learn the secrets of everything from hot cross buns and crumpets to Danish pastries, bannocks, rye crispbread and challah. It covers every kind of basic cake and biscuit, puddings, all sorts of pastries and even homemade pasta. More impressively, every recipe I've tried has worked! Just be aware that since this book was published in London all recipes are given in weights rather than volume measures so you'll either need a set of scales or a conversion chart.
Just in case purchasing a British book for the economical sum of $0.40 cents doesn't appeal, or you just can't wait to get started, here are some learning links related to baking bread and biscuits:
- My favorite biscuit recipe uses oil rather than shortening. What could be better? When the main part of your meal is a bean soup, you need something with some fat to fill you up. An oil-based biscuit is ideal and much healthier. I make mine with olive oil, salt, pepper and some Italian herb mix. Here's the secret to healthy, fluffy biscuits. There are many ideas for using biscuits at BettyCrocker.com. I'd just substitute the oil-based recipe for the Bisquick mix she suggests.
- How does an engineer write recipes? Find out how to cook the engineers' way and make cornbread. Now, I'm not talking about high-tech or using a lot of grease! This recipe format makes SO much sense to me. I've never quite mastered the art of understanding recipes, which means I usually read my book over and over and over to make sure I get it right. I'm not an engineer, but I still like it!
- Like many people I've tried wholewheat bread recipes and ended up with a brick-like result. At Smitten Kitchen I found a recipe for a light, wheat bread. I'm willing to give it a try once more. Deb over there even claims to bewitch breads!
- Natashya at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies has been writing about soup and bread and she just wrote about the book pictured at the top of this page "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day". It worked for her and now I just have to check it out! I had found it at Amazon.com when I was looking around for a bread picture today. I read the first few pages online and was really intrigued. It goes on my wishlist. In fact I'm off to check my library for it in just a moment.
- Not everyone has the luxury of being home with the chance to make their own bread. I know that many enjoy bread from in-store bakeries. For my family this is not a choice - we have a member with peanut allergy and in-store bakeries are just a risk we can't take. I highly recommend the Farm to Market bread company. It's not much use to you unless you're in the Kansas City area, but their bread is really great. Don't expect it to last more than one meal though because it's much too delicious! They have some recipes at their website which you could use with your own home-made bread, or in-store baked if that works better for you.
- There are plenty places to read the story of bread online. Here is a pretty detailed history of bread making for those who like to read. For the more visual you can watch a bread story slide show.
- Here's a Flowerpot Bread recipe for cooking with your kids. I'd never heard of bread clay, but I found a recipe and it sounds like a fun craft project. Personally I think it's about all store-bought, sliced white bread is good for, but maybe your kids would disagree!
Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day at Amazon.com - you can read the first few pages online. Flour Cooking Naturally is available used - it contains a wealth of wheat based recipes from many countries. Bread machines are wonderful if you have the space and funds.