Today’s post is from my friend and teammate, Andrea. Andrea is one of those people you just can’t help but like! She is full of energy, enthusiasm, honesty, and drive. She loves learning new things and sharing what she learns. She is an incredibly creative person with a sincere desire to change, improve, and grow as well as help others do the same. Her posts give us all a peek into the things she is learning each month about self reliance. They are fun because they are real!
Andrea did a few guest posts for me before officially joining Simple Family Preparedness blogging team in March, 2013. She shares her talents here at Simple Family Preparedness on the 1st Thursday of each month and regularly on her site, Project Simple Home.
Earn Free Products with Courtni (Spokane county, WA area)
This month is National Emergency Preparedness Month, so you would think that I had some crazy skill/challenge to go along with that, right? Perhaps I lived a day or more without water or power in my home. Maybe I ate solely from my food storage for a week. Perhaps I dropped everything and survived three days with only the contents of my bug out bag. Nope! All of these are great ideas and things I would eventually like to challenge myself to do. However, this month I am bringing you back to basics, and nothing screams basic like bread.
Want to learn a dirty little prepper secret of mine? I didn’t really learn how to make homemade bread growing up. I was a Wonderbread girl with the odd Rhodes Roll during special events (my mom would bake two per muffin tin and we called them butt bread; ahh childhood). I was perfectly content with that, though I still remember the tempting smell of homemade bread baking right before we were picked from the lady who watch us while my parents worked. I did get a recipe from my eventual Mother-in-law when I was a teenager, but it made so much bread I didn’t know what to do with it. All this is fairly odd considering my father now makes weekly loafs of the world’s best sourdough, but it just wasn’t a huge part of my life growing up.
Well, now I’m all grown up with a family of my own. White bread from the store is still blissfully cheap, but I’m determined to commit some prepper basics to memory, and bread making was at the top of that list. To add to that, I was surprised how many ingredients with difficult-to-pronounce names are included in something that should be quite simple. I challenged myself to bake our own bread the entire summer.
First task was finding the perfect bread recipe to make. While
wasting time researching on Pinterest (by the way, you should follow me. I do a whole lot of “research”), the aptly named “Basically Perfect Bread” from Simply Swanky popped up in my feed and I decided to give it a go. One trial later, and I wasn’t looking any further. The recipe really was perfect. Easy to make, no complicated ingredients, great flavor, and two wonderfully shaped loafs per recipe.
I used my several Thrive products that I had on hand including white flour and the all important powdered milk that really adds something to the flavor of the end result. You will also need instant yeast and honey. I have not tried honey crystals with this recipe yet but I do plan on doing so soon. A note about salt: it is essential to bread. Salt-less bread tastes dead. I almost exclusively use kosher salt and the recommended 1 Tbsp. is perfect. If you use sea salt or some other fine crystal salt, you may want to reduce the amount to two teaspoons, but bake by the recipe first.
I’ve been using this recipe and baking weekly loaves of bread for my family for just over three months now. Even during weeks where temps were in the triple digits and no A/C, I still baked our weekly bread. I made it as written several times, but I also made it without the help of my mixer and even a few times in our amazing new Sun Oven.
While I always made one of the loaves plain, I did get fancy with loaf number two on occasion. When I felt a bit savory, I added herbs (Thrive Salad Seasoning is a fantastic mix for this), and when I felt sweet, I added white chocolate chips and Thrive Freeze-Dried Cherries (rehydrated slightly). To add the flavorings, allow it to go through it’s first proof, and then divide the dough into two sections as suggested. Work one section into a flat rectangle about the size of a sheet of paper, add your “goodies,” and then roll into a log and place in the pan for the second proof. Bake as directed in the original recipe.
Is it worth all the trouble for fresh bread? Yes. I now know that recipe like the back of my hand. I don’t have to look online anymore. I feel comfortable making a loaf anytime I need one, and it doesn’t feel like a “special project” anymore. My husband prefers the flavor and dense texture of this bread for his sandwiches as opposed to the nothingness that we were buying from the store each week. There are no extra ingredients that require a degree in chemistry to understand. It makes wonderful toast, grilled cheese, and croutons. And until you have slathered a thick, still warm slice in honey butter, well…you are missing out.
My challenge for you this month is to make your own bread.
Simple as that. Each week (or more if you have a larger family) make up a recipe. Use if for your sandwiches, for a side to your soup, for a delivery system of that amazing homemade strawberry jam your grandmother just sent you. Try it for a month, and extend it a few more if you can. Try to get to the point were baking bread is “no big deal” and you can recite the recipe from memory.
If you are already there, congrats! Go enjoy some toast with honey butter 🙂 or check out last months post on making homemade butter.