I maintain the habit adopted on Deal Island of baking almost all our bread, english muffins and bagels. I’s a good thing since bread always gets crushed in the backpack and we still have to walk over the bridge. There’s actually very little hands-on time for bread baking and I use a fool proof recipe that for better or worse, tastes like Wonder bread. This is a far cry from my early days of bread baking in the ’80’s when failed loaves could kill the chipmunks that found them tossed outside the house.
It requires about 20 minutes of attention during a day when I’ll be around the house for at 3 hours. Ten minutes to mix it up, 10 minutes to knead, 1 minute to shape the loaves and that’s it. The rest of the time is spent hanging around and waiting for it to rise in the bowl, the pans and then to bake. The secret is to add the flour gradually because it’s much easier to add more flour, if the dough is too sticky, then to add water, if it’s too stiff. I found this bread recipe on the internet, which makes two large loaves and swear by it. I splurged on two bread pans from Williams Sonoma but the old, well-seasoned pans on Deal Island which worked just as well. They just need to be large with square corners.
After the dough has risen in the bowl, you divide it in two and pat each portion into a rectangle. Then roll it up, pinch the ends and put them in the oiled pans to let them rise. That’s it. Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked bread. Bread machines create the same fresh baked smell but the loaves are awkward and small. There’s something magical about working with your hands and yeast to create something so delicious.