Adventures in Bread Baking

I can make really delicious banana bread. In fact, it’s one of my (very few) specialties. It’s quick and easy, kids love it, and if you do it right it can be reasonably healthy. Best of all, it does not contain yeast, so there are fewer things that can go wrong.

You see, I’ve always been afraid of yeast breads. The kneading, the rising, and the time involved have always intimidated me. Until now. For some unknown reason, I recently felt inspired to put aside my fear of yeast and try baking my own bread.

My first attempts were this past winter, when I had romantic notions of a house warmed by the smell of bread in the oven. Unfortunately, the results were less than romantic. Either the dough was too sticky, or I kneaded it too much (or maybe too little), or I didn’t have enough time to let it rise properly, and so on. The whole process felt like way too much trouble and I just couldn’t seem to get it right (that darn yeast!), so I gave up for a while.

Then came our successful first attempt at canning. A few weeks ago, my husband and I made two big batches of homemade jam with fresh, local strawberries — using step-by-step instructions I found online. Basking in the glow of a cupboard full of delicious, low-sugar jam, I decided I should give bread baking another try. After all, what’s better with homemade jam than a warm slice of homemade bread?!

So last night, armed with a wonderful new bread book, I made my very first 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf. We couldn’t wait to try it, and nearly destroyed my perfect loaf by cutting it before it had cooled. But man, was that bread good. And this morning, my girls each ate a slice for breakfast — with strawberry jam.

So, for those of you who are intimidated by the thought of baking your own bread, just keep trying! Eventually you’ll find a recipe or a style that works for you. If I can do it, you certainly can, too!

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