We all have our own journeys when it comes to eating better and I am no exception.
One thing I said I wouldn't give up and that was bread. To me and I'm sure many others would agree that they love the taste and texture of a tasty bread to make something quick and simple such as sandwich, or a slice alongside a big salad.
Some people avoid eating bread simply because they want to limit their carb intake or may be for medical reasons such as being gluten sensitive or intolerant. But, there are also lots of options for folks who have these conditions to also enjoy bread in moderation.
As I mentioned in a previous post, creating healthy habits can take a while. But even if you only make smaller changes, its still a step in the right direction.
One habit, I am working on is to consistently making my own bread at home from scratch. Also, my goal is to eat mostly whole grain or whole wheat loaves when I do make them.
But as some of you may know, baking certainly has it's challenges. Before I showcase my creations, let me give you 3 major advantages of making your own bread at home.
1: You control the ingredients.
This is an obvious one. But, to me the most major reason why you should be making your own. Let's think about how simple the ingredients are for a basic loaf. This would be flour, water, salt & yeast. That's it! When you grab a processed loaf from your local supermarket it is the total opposite of the short list of ingredients. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, it should be an astounding NO!
2. It Tastes Better!
This is a quite obvious one too when you start making a comparison in flavor from store bought to making your own. Although fresh bread you make from scratch does not last as long, you can always preserve it naturally by placing cut slices in Ziploc freezer bags. Another alternative is to just toast your bread which will still be pretty awesome in taste.
3. It's Affordable
I know some folks will say they can get a loaf of bread for as cheap as a $1. But, the sad fact is the quality is not great and the nutritional aspect of that bread is even sadder. Although, you do have buy the initial ingredients to make bread, its still has a good bang for your buck quality wise.
So, lets talk about actually baking a loaf. Because baking bread can be thought of as a "labor of love" I'm still down with making great loaves that are pretty hands off, but still results in a great tasting loaf. My two examples here showcase one loaf made in a bread machine and the other in a Dutch oven with a lid.
Both of the recipes I tried I grabbed online. One from the famous baking specialists when it comes to bread which would be King Arthur and the other from the Food Network, by Alton Brown.
The bread I made by Alton Brown is called a No Knead Sourdough Boule. Since it was my first time using this recipe, I followed the recipe exactly of how it should be produced. It was quite tasty and the results were fabulous!
.nThis technique uses a hand off approach of the "no knead" method, which simply means, you mix the ingredients and then you let rest for a set amount of hours. In this case, the dough sits for a good 19 hours. The dough is then punched down and then allowed to rise for an additional couple of hours before shaping and baking it off. Although a lot of time is added to creating this loaf, you don't have to babysit it. A big win, win!
Now, one thing I want to mention, baking is a science, so its best to do the original as is like I did with this loaf and then adjust to see what your creative mind can come up with. With this being said, I was curious to how this loaf would come out if I wanted to go the route of making it healthier without using all white bread flour.
I decided to swap out half of the bread flour and substituted the other half required with organic sprouted spelt flour. The results came out pretty good. However, I did notice the loaf did not rise as high as the original. Did I mention baking is a science? lol. But, seriously, it was a decent loaf for a first try. I think next time, I will hydrate it more with water and with the addition of vital wheat gluten to assist which may help with the rise in this recipe.
If you are interested in trying organic sprouted spelt flour, this is the brand that I use which will also let you know the wonderful healthy aspects of using this flour for your baking needs.
One Degree Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour
The last loaf I made by King Arthur really has a "hands off" approach using a bread machine. (Yes, this is for folks who really don't want to spend too much time, but it is also just great to use for the dough cycle for bread you want to bake in the oven.) This recipe uses no white flour at all and is 100 percent whole wheat. This is my loaf results.
This loaf had great lift, considering it was ALL whole wheat flour. (I used King Arthur's white whole wheat.) However, with it not having any white flour at all, I found it too be too dry, even though it baked on the light crust setting for my bread machine. Although still tasty, I would have liked it to have been a little be more moist and less dry. This one I will attempt again with more water and test again.
This loaf of bread has some great additions such as flax and sesame seeds to boost its nutrition. Here is the recipe at King Arthur.
100 Percent Whole Wheat Bread
Although making homemade healthy bread from scratch can be trial and error, it really is worth a try. Baking bread can be a relaxing process and allows you to get creative. I would love to see your creations of what you come up with.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
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Vanessa LaBranche/Chef Instructor-Culinary Educator