A Non-Additive Baking Weekend


A friend of mine at work, started bringing in homemade fresh baked bread. He started talking about all of the crap they put into store bought bread that isn’t flour, yeast, sugar or wheat…

I’m talking about additives, people! I’m talking about the stuff that lets bread sit on the counter for three weeks without molding!!! Yes – I’ve had this loaf of bread – WE ALL DO.

After hearing about this, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. About all the extra crap I was eating that wasn’t food….Now I understand that additives were invented for just that purpose: To help extend our food supplies during the war. However, in the 1920’s, after WWI, they were then banned due to their toxic properties! During WWII, due to the urgency of needing cheap food preservatives, the FDA lifted the ban once again. The ban was set in place again in the 1950’s. Since then, companies have come up with other food preservatives. Just because there isn’t currently a ban on them, doesn’t mean they are good for us….look at soda for heaven-sakes!

Either way. there are substances in our food that are toxic, so we can eat it for a longer period of time…that logic will not stand with me.

Also, I would like to figure out what makes the HB’s mouth swell up every time he bites into one of my grilled cheese sandwiches. I know it isn’t nuts, because we eat those by the handfuls, and my oatmeal cookies are fine…I’m starting to wonder if it might just be those pesky additives…

SO, I decided to follow in my co-workers footsteps and try to make bread. I would start with a simple white bread recipe and slowly move to a wheat bread. I will figure out what the heck the HB is allergic to!

Thanks to the Good Housekeeping cookbook I received for Christmas the year I graduated high school, I found some great recipes I will share with you today. But it’s a GREAT basic cookbook, if you don’t know where to start! (And it’s like $8 on amazon.com!)

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BASIC WHITE BREAD RECIPE
1/2 warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup warm milk
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon salt
About 7 1/2 cups flour (I used bread flour)

– Stir water and 1 teaspoon of sugar together and sprinkle yeast on top. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
– Stir in milk, remaining sugar, butter, salt and 4 cups of flour with a wooden spoon.
– Gradually stir in 3 more cups of flour to make a nice dough.

Time to get your hands dirty!
– Knead for about 8 minutes on a floured surface.
– Place dough in a bowl, lightly oiled, covered with plastic wrap.
– Let it rise for an hour.

– After an hour, beat the dough! Divide the dough into two balls. Shape it into a rectangle, roll it up and pinch the ends. Lay it in the loaf pan with the seam on the bottom.
– Let it rise for an hour, with plastic wrap over it.

-bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

This recipe makes two loaves, but don’t fret! They freeze fantastically. I only have one loaf pan, so I bake one while the other gets to raise for an additional 40 minutes….not a bad thing.

The thing about making bread, is that it is very time consuming. Everyone has a different recipe, but mine goes a little something like: Make the dough – let it sit an hour – beat it up – let it sit an hour – bake it for 35 minutes – let it sit for a couple hours – consume it.

HOWEVER time consuming, it’s completely worth it. It’s very therapeutic. You get to beat the crap out of something (or put a lot of love into it, depending on the type of week you are having) and the end result is this beautiful baked item that you should be proud of! It looks like it came straight from a bakery (Well it did!)

I had so much fun making the bread, that we decided to make pretzels!

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PRETZEL RECIPE
2 cups warm water
1 package dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
About 4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Basically, this is the same idea as the bread.

– Combine water yeast and sugar, let stand for 5 minutes.
– Add salt and about half the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Gradually mix in remaining flour, minus about a half cup.

Beat it!
– Use the extra half cup to flour your kneading surface. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes, until it feels good and elastic.
– Lightly oil your dough ball and place it in a bowl, covered. Let it rise for about an hour.
– It suggests to divide the dough into 8 pretzels, but I will be doing 12 next time…They got HUGE.
– Roll them out nice and skinny and give them a little twist of your choice.

– Preheat your oven to a toasty 450 degrees.
– In a pot, get water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda boiling.
– dip the pretzels in, then place on a coated cookie sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.

– bake for about 15 minutes or golden brown.

Eat! Feel free to freeze them once they are completely baked. They you an toss them in the toaster oven anytime you want a hot pretzel.

It turns out, I like slinging dough! Pretzels are fun to roll out because they feel like they are full of air bubbles.

Remember to roll them out as skinny as you can, because they puff up so much! Just look at ours! They are so silly looking! But still delicious!

Add Cinnamon, Salt, Garlic or dip it Nutella or Whiskey Mustard! It’s all great!

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BRIAN’S WHISKEY MUSTARD:
Whole Grain Mustard
Splash of Bourbon
Splash of Worcestershire Sauce
Splash of Red Hot
Black Pepper, Salt

Adjust to Taste

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This past weekend, I woke up craving french toast and cinnamon raisin bread. So I invited over a couple of friends for brunch and made french toast out of the loaf of white bread I had previously made. It was good stuff. Very eggy and filling!

After eating, Kaitlyn and I apron-ed up (my version of “suiting up” if you’re a How I Met Your Mother fan) and started punching some forgotten raisins into my cinnamon raisin bread while another friend, RBK began to play some ragtime on the piano. It was all very fancy and wonderful!

CINNAMON RAISIN BREAD
2 tablespoons Butter
1/3 cup Brown sugar
Lots of Cinnamon

Follow the instruction for the white bread, except add two cups of raisins into your milk before adding the milk to your flour mixture. I added the raisins in much later and it is doable, but not easy… lots of punching….good for aggression.

– Divide dough into two balls.
– Spread each ball into two rectangles.
– Spread 1 Tablespoon of butter onto dough surface.
– Sprinkle on brown sugar and cinnamon.
– Roll up the rectangle and pinch ends.
– Place seams in the bottom of loaf pan.

Bake the same as the white bread.

With all of my baked treats, the HB seems to be enjoying them without any reaction. Next, I start the wheat and nut breads. I suggest everyone at least try baking bread. And yes, we are all working men and women, and we are all super busy, but everyone has time to try something new. It just depends on what you want to do with your time. It’s really fun and you really appreciate the flavor of a great slice of bread.