The Art of Bread Making

An idle parent is a thrifty parent.
– The Manifesto of the Idle Parent (Tom Hodgkinson)

December 2009 was the last time that we purchased bread. Since then, we’ve been making our own bread. No bread machine, no pre-made dough, no bread hook in a fancy mix master. We are simply putting together flour, warm water and yeast, and tada, we have our own bread!

It’s been an easy way to cut back our grocery bill. We were buying the high-end, multi-grain loaves at approximately $4 a loaf. When we did the math, we found that we were eating approximately $25 in store-bought bread each month.

Making our own bread has proved to be extremely satisfying. It’s something that feels good in the hands, lets off that yummy yeasty smell as it rises, and tastes like nothing else when it is warm out of the oven. Not to mention that it is nutritious and additive-free.

We’ve also found that The Bear loves participating in bread making. She helps us knead the dough, punch down the dough after the first rise and has no problem sampling it. Hodgkinson, from The Idle Parent, recommends bread making as a great activity for kids. When children are involved in making food, they are more likely to eat it. It is also an activity that we may view as work, but children see as play. Blurring those lines is part of the Idle Parent agenda.

I will admit that it has been a bit of a learning curve. We’ve experimented with different flours, yeasts and recipes. Here is the recipe that I’m currently working from. It yields two loaves.

Multigrain Bread

2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast (or one package)
4 cups multigrain bread flour
1 cup milk
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp butter
1 teaspoon molasses
2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ cups white flour


ADD dry yeast to 2 cups of multigrain flour in large bowl.

HEAT milk to lukewarm. Stir in water, butter, sugar, and molasses. (I do this in a saucepan on the stove. Just make sure that the mixture is at least body temperature before using – you should be able to stick your finger in without it feeling hot)

ADD warm milk mixture to the flour and yeast mixture. Beat with wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth and elastic.

STIR IN the remaining 2 cups of multigrain flour. Add 1 cup of white flour gradually. If necessary, add more white flour to make a soft dough which leaves sides of bowl.

TURN out the dough on a floured surface. Knead dough, adding more flour as necessary, until dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky (about 10 minutes).

PLACE dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel.

LET RISE in warm place until doubled. (Most recipes that I’ve read says that this should only take about an hour. But I generally mix the dough in the morning and let it rise until mid-afternoon – when The Bear gets up from her nap)

PUNCH DOWN the dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and divide into 2 equal portions.

SHAPE each portion into a loaf. Place seam side down in 2 greased loaf pans. Cover with damp tea towel.

LET RISE in warm place until dough rises (Again, I let them rise for a couple of hours. Generally from mid-afternoon until after dinner)

BAKE at 375°F on lower oven rack for 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from pans immediately. Brush top crust with butter if a soft crust is desired. Cool on wire racks.


5 Responses to “The Art of Bread Making”

  1. 1 best July 4, 2014 at 2:17 pm

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  2. 2 roma February 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    agree that making your own healthy bread is definitely the way to go. We have been making our own bread from scratch for a few years now and it tastes so much better than the store bought stuff. A good (and somewhat thought provoking) read on the topic is Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley.

    • 3 Ms Ella February 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm

      Love it! I remember as a child making pyrogies and pizza with my mom! It was the best and of course baking! We always baked together!

      Although I do remember the day I decided to put my whole hand, palm down onto the burner…ya I thought that was pretty cool! LOL!

      • 4 Mama Tortoise February 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

        Mmmm… pizza dough. We’ve been making our own pizza dough too. One book that I’ve been reading is called, Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Pagrach-Chandra.

        And Roma, thanks for the tip about the book, Bread Matters. I found the website: I loved the opening words on the site:

        Bread Matters because

        – What we eat affects the way we feel and act. Bread can be an important part of our diet but only if every mouthful is as good as possible.
        – The care we take in producing bread reflects and perhaps defines the society we live in.

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