Friday, August 26, 2011

Meeting the Family's Bread Needs - Part 1

Meet my friend Kevin. He and I participated in music groups together in high school and then went our seperate ways. We got back in touch through Facebook and I found that, not only do we have a mutual love for a capella singing, but also for kitchen work. Lately, he's been posting pictures of his loaves of bread the way others post pictures of their children, you know...

The Twins

The Freckled One

The Chubby One

The Surly Teen (see the frown?)

The Postman's Son

So I got the bright idea to interview him for my blog. I think I'll divide it into three posts - Kevin's History With Bread Baking, How Does One Learn?, and The Best of the Best.

Getting the Family Fed: Do you have a long history with bread baking or is this a new part of your life?:

Kevin: No, I don't have a long history of baking bread myself. Growing up, both my grandmother and my mom's oldest sister made their own bread. Aunt Ruth still does at 83. It was always a real treat to have bread served with a meal at their houses. I'd like to say I remember sitting in their kitchens while watching them mix, knead and bake dough, but I don't really. I just remember the sweet, whole wheat breadiness of many meals spent in grandma's and my aunt's homes.

I believe I started (learning) in late April or early May of this year, though I did give it the old college try way back in 1996.

GFF: What caused you to start baking bread?

K: I don't really know. Truth is that the biggest reason is probably because I was bored. It's something that I've always wanted to learn but just never got around to.

Part of the recent interest, too, was purely economical. Since we are a one income family for the moment, I thought perhaps baking bread would help stretch the dollar. It is cheaper to bake our own, but not by much.

However, my bread is definitely healthier if only because there are no preservatives. And that is by far the reason why I have kept up with it. I started this hobby with the thought of supplementing our store bought bread purchases. I quickly learned, however, how simple it is to produce for all of our bread needs. It takes a bit of planning and a lot of practice, but being able to make these loaves for my wife and kids has been more rewarding than baking for its own reward.

GFF: When you say it's cheaper, but barely, do you mean compared to, like, Wonderbread? Because I think that's not comparing apples to apples. Or are you comparing the price to the artisan loaves that you are replicating?

K: I confess that I've never sat down and figured my own costs. I've relied on other bloggers and websites. And it is true that it's unfair to compare fresh baked with industrial produced bread. Generally, a homemade loaf costs between $.75 and $1.25 from what I've read. That approaches the cost of the whole wheat bread we bought at Aldi's. It is more cost effective compared to the Aunt Millie's Cracked Whole Wheat my family prefers. It is significantly cheaper to artisan or supermarket bakery made bread.

Tomorrow we'll learn how Kevin went about learning how to bake bread. His sources and processes are SO much different than mine. I've been reading through our online interview and I'm looking forward to sharing his recipes. Dang, I want to go bake some pretzel rolls. I wish my kitchen weren't filled with garden produce, canned chutney and chili pepper jelly. And fruit flies. Sigh.


  1. hey, this is cool. I'm looking forward to reading more.

    I don't have fruit flies this year - can't think why. More mosquitoes than anything.

  2. Kevin, I can't believe how regular and elegant your loaves are! Within a batch mine are all different sizes and shapes and I've never attempted slashing. Do you weigh your bread dough when dividing.

  3. Thanks Rebecca! I do weigh out the bread when dividing. As for the slashing, I'm learning that it is quite functional as well as decorative. It can control how a bread expands during that "oven spring". The pic labeled the Chubby One went in to the oven as a round, but came out as a fat oval because, I guess, the horizontal slashes allowed the dough to expand in that direction.

  4. Oh my goodness, the descriptions of the loaves are hilarious!!! :-)


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