Yeast. Sourdough. Quick. Plain or fancy. The varieties of bread worldwide and over thousands of year are seemingly limitless. Bread serves as the star of many a meal as well as a supporting character in many more. It’s a quick toast in the morning, a crunchy baguette sopping up sauce, the containment vessels for a million sandwiches, biscuits on top of a fruit bake or chicken potpie. It’s pizza and crostini, French toast and bread pudding.
It’s a simple slice of bread eaten with nothing else because that is all there is.
We might not bake bread ourselves, but the smell of the yeast in the air can transport us immediately to our mothers’ kitchens, or the lovely experience of walking into a favorite bakery on a gloomy morning. You feel like you are home. Everything is all right.
At this place in time, folks are either deeply enamored of this table staple, or scared to death of it. I will confess here that I have a limit to how much gluten I can eat myself, but even if I couldn’t eat it at all, I would still make bread for my family, the process is as enjoyable to me as the end product.
Slow Food or Fast?
Baking bread can take minutes or days. I like both processes. I have my own homemade sourdough starter that is nearly a decade old, and this produces one of my favorite baguettes. I made this using yeast from grapes from my friend’s vineyard, and I think of this each time I stir up the strange-looking concoction. It can take up to two days, at least the better part of one, but I love the feel of the dough and the smell of the air and the whole process. It is calming, and it is satisfying, and it reminds me of those who came before me.
But this is a modern world, and people believe they have less time than past generations – you know, those folks who had no food processors or microwaves, no clothes dryers or any of the other conveniences we take for granted! But never fear, there are lots of ways to cut down on the actual hands-on time of making bread. My Hassle-Free Bread is a yeast bread that can fill in many duties from bread to pizza, and if one is really pressed for time, a quick bread or biscuit will fit into anyone’s schedule. I’ve included a few of my favorites here.
Time not Toil
If you’ve never baked bread before, take a Sunday afternoon and give it a try. Start with the Hassle Free Bread and if you have the time, knead it this time by hand so that you can get the feel of it. The smell of your kitchen when the bread bakes will be incredible, and you will want to do it again. Take a moment too to recognize that this will not take much actual hands-on time, but the rewards are great.
If you have baked bread before, try venturing into the world of sourdough! It is a longer process, and you are forewarned, it could become addicting!
Sourdough Bread – Both short and long methods.