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Overcoming the breadmaking challenge

As much as I try to include real food in our life, we keep buying bread from the supermarket.  Every time I buy bread I think "I should really be making this", but still nothing changes.

The main problem with bread from the supermarket is all the unnecessary ingredients.  The only bread that we ever buy is a decent brand, but it often contains soy flour and a huge list of ingrediants.  And now the govt has legislated that all bread must contain folic acid.  While I think we should all get our vitamins, I would prefer to get mine from natural sources, rather than so called "fortification" of other foods.

For a long time I had this idea that if I was going to make bread myself, I should make the best possible bread. I felt bad using bread mix, white wheat flour, bakers yeast or a bread maker with a teflon bread tin, as I wasn't producing the best possible bread for our health.  But this has caused a state of paralysis where I just keep buying bread because I can't make perfect bread.

Just recently I realised that anything I make is going to be better than what I can buy.  OK, not quite anything, because there's nearly as much crap in bread mix as there is in bought bread (especially as bread improver contains sodium metabisulphate - which we use to clean the beer fermenters), but if I start with flour and yeast in the breadmaker, its not as good as proper hand made sourdough, but its better than what we are doing now!

To make myself commit to this new idea, I bought a bag of (local-ish) Kialla Pure Foods Organic Wholemeal Spelt flour.  It wasn't cheap!  So now I HAVE to make bread with it!  To start it will just be breadmaker bread with real ingredients, with bakers yeast, not sourdough, and that will help me to get into the habit of making bread regularly and fitting it into my working-full-time and farming-part-time schedule!

Kialla Pure Foods Organic Wholemeal Spelt Flour
 - got to love the reusable cloth bag!!!
I based my recipe on the breadmaker book recipe ratios, but modified it to use real ingredients as follows:
  • water
  • instead of margarine I used olive oil
  • for salt I used Himalayan sea salt
  • instead of brown sugar I used local raw honey
  • instead of skim milk powder I used fresh raw milk
  • instead of bread improver I used an egg
  • for the flour I used my Kialla organic wholemeal spelt flour
  • and bakers yeast.

It tastes alright.......

the bottom looks ok.....

....but the top sank!

Think I need to reduce yeast so it doesn't collapse in future (see here).

Eventually I really really want to learn how to make nice sourdough and bake it in our woodstove over winter.  I'm doing a course in late April, so that may be the final inspiration I need.  There are some great recipes in Nourishing Traditions that I'm yet to try.

Do you make bread and how on earth do you find the time??  All recipe recommendations will be appreciated, especially if they don't contain "bread improver" or vegetable oil! 


  1. I love the whole process of kneading and the smell of bread baking, but then find we eat too much! I made one of those 5 minute a day recipes once and it was nice, but I think I needed to do it more often until it became part of my daily schedule.

  2. Sourdough. One of the things I love about sourdough is that you don't have to knead and knead it. I've got into a nice little rhythm now that takes just 15 mins and fits in nicely around a work day, with the result that I don't have to whip myself into baking. I do a small loaf of Oat and Linseed Sourdough twice a week or so, and pita or fruit bread or ciabatta or something interesting on the weekend, and I don't think I'm ever going back to bought bread!

  3. First time commenter, and very novice sourdough bread maker!! Finally I got some instructions and starter from my sister, and started making some very easy bread... consisting of flour, water, salt and starter. No kneading, incredibly easy!

    Have just developed a pattern - feed the starter before bed, make the dough in the morning, leave it to rise all day, form the loaves in the late afternoon, cook the loaves around dinner time. So it really doesn't take all that long! The recpie comes from the Wild Sourdough book but simplified to exclude the kneading -

  4. my understanding (and I could be wrong) it that improver isn't essential. It helps the yeast to activate quicker and helps to keep the loaf fresher for longer, but it doesn't HAVE to go in your loaf if you don't want to use it.

  5. Homemade bread is the biggest challenge I have had in the kitchen. I don't eat much grain but I do love sourdough and I can't seem to get it right. I am going to spend the summer playing around with it. Good luck to you. I hope you post more of your progress. I can learn from you! :)

  6. I have been using the recipe at the following link for 3 months now. It makes two loaves which is perfect for my family of 4 for a week. The bread is still fresh...never moldy...perfect. What I really like about this recipe is that it worked as advertised...I didn't tweak it at all. Try don't need the bread machine!

  7. I agree! Do what you feel you can manage. If that is the bread maker, so be it. Once you get used to doing that you can work on sourdough. Though I also agree with
    Linda - sourdough requires heaps less kneading and is easy. I'm not organized enough to do it all the time but the majority of our bread is sourdough.

  8. Thanks for all the comments, suggestions and support! That gives me a few ideas for things to try and it sounds like sourdough might help me to establish a breadmaking routine.

  9. Like all things in life, when you start adding too many things to it, more things are bound to go wrong.

    Bread is beautiful, living stuff and learning how to bake it is about engaging in simplicity. Few ingredients are needed, but most crucial is the knowledge of how they work together. This is why I found packaged yeast to be failure haven at home. Some people do really well with it, but I personally found it very temperamental.

    Sourdough starter got me used to caring for something that was living. Especially if the aim is to use more natural ingredients. In my former profession, I use to churn out loaves of bread by the hundreds. Didn't know squiddly about what I was doing though, because training involved setting up the machines and opening bags of premix.

    I know from experience if you want to learn to bake bread successfully at home, the machine and dead ingredients don't work. With all my experience, you would think I'd make perfect loaves at home. Nup! I made bricks of inedible fibre, just like everyone else does at first, LOL.

    The reason it's so different at home is people want natural ingredients, and that changes the method somewhat.

    I've written some posts on my blog, under the label "sourdough". I've incorporated wholemeal spelt flour more recently, but you really need white (unbleached) bakers flour to give your loaves more activity in raising. I use more white flour than spelt (a) because it works better as a dough, and (b) it's more cost effective long term.

    I should do a more recent post on my ingredients list, because using honey as I now do (over sugar) actually keeps the loaf fresher for longer. Eggs aren't necessary in breadmaking. My simple list of ingredients are flour, water, oil, salt, and honey - then to the kneaded dough I add linseed, sunflower seeds and pepitas. It's very yummy.

    As for schedule, I find it easier to bake bread when I can, cut it up and freeze for later. I'll bake an extra loaf for freezing, so that I don't have to race making bread when the schedule is particularly hectic. It's also a great method for those who don't eat a lot of bread but still want homemade. Eat only what you need and freeze the rest. :)

  10. Spelt flour doesn't have strong enough gluten strands to use as base for bread making. It's better if you keep it to about 25% and use whole wheat for your other 75%.
    Sourdough is great, but you might want to get used to making a traditional loaf first so you have a bit more experience in telling when things are going the way they should.
    If you are using these flours, it would help to add some vital wheat gluten to let your loaf rise enough and hold its shape. Good luck! Nothing smells better than homemade bread!

  11. Thinking about all the rubbish ingredients in store-bought bread does my head in too. I don't buy bread that often any more.

    I went through a phase of making sourdough bread (there's a recipe on Craving Fresh), but we just didn't get through it so I stopped.

    Now I've changed my dietary habits instead. I used to eat toast for breakfast every morning, but now I eat scrambled eggs or oat pancakes or banana coconut pancakes or porridge or homemade muesli or some such.

    I'm more likely to use my breadmaker to make buns to go with dinner - and white ones at that. Not healthy, but oh so delicious.

    If you do perfect your spelt bread recipe, let me know as I'd like to give it a try.


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