Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 ~ A Year of BYOB (Bake Your Own Bread)


Sometime during the last few months of 2008, I all but stopped buying bread at the grocery store. I can't remember when, exactly. Maybe it was after attending the Hearth Breads Bootcamp at the CIA. Maybe it was after I bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois and carved out a permanent spot in my fridge's shelf space for a dough-proofing box. Maybe it was when I coughed up nearly eight dollars for a single loaf of country French bread at a well-known chain bakery. Maybe, and most likely, it was all of the above events converging.



Whatever the precipitating events were, I started baking my own bread pretty exclusively over the past two or three months. Before you roll your eyes, let me qualify this statement with a few details about myself. I am not a professional baker. I am a freelance writer and editor. I work full-time. Or more than full-time, occasionally. I am happily married to a man who, although a truly wonderful husband, does not cook. (Ever.) I have two very busy nondriving kids, so my extracurricular activities include driving them to a variety of lessons, practices, sporting events, and social gatherings. Even my weekends are packed with errands, grocery shopping, church, Sunday school, etc., etc. In short, I am B.U.S.Y. Just like you. And if I can bake my own bread, heck, so can you!



Trust me, it's not as hard as you think. I'll do everything I can to help you. I'll show you the truc that makes it easier and more fun. I'll give you recipes, or point you to my favorite sources for them. I'll provide you with a list of resources and plenty of photos to illustrate the process. And I'll be baking right here, in my own small, inefficient home-baker's kitchen. I don't have any specialized equipment ~ just an electric range, a baking stone, and a few odds and ends that I'm pretty sure you can find wherever you live. And if you don't have a stand mixer, don't worry ~ you can get by without one.



There's a lot of talk about how expensive flour is getting. And it's true, prices are going up. But they're also going up in the grocery store and the bakery! And when it comes right down to it, baking your own bread and other baked goods is just far more cost-effective than buying them. An example? A comparable loaf of that eight-dollar country French bread I mentioned earlier would cost me considerably less than two dollars to make at home. (Including the electricity, for those of you who keep track of such things.)



This year, I'm resolving to bake all our own baked goods. From scratch. From sandwich bread to pizza dough to hamburger buns. Birthday cakes and dinner rolls. Bagels. I'm designating 2009 the year of BYOB ~ Bake Your Own Bread. It'll be an adventure. I've made lots of things on my own, but I have a lot to learn: I've never made English muffins before. Or hot dog buns. Or croissants. But it'll be fun, I'm certain.



So . . . care to join me? If you're a seasoned bread baker, maybe this is just the event you've been waiting for to go full-on DIY. If you've always wanted to bake your own breads but find yeast dough intimidating to work with, this is perfect for you, too! I have plenty of tips, tricks/truc, and recipes that will have you turning out the loaves of your dreams in no time. If you want to hop on the breadwagon, just drop me an e-mail, and I'll add you to the blogroll. Feel free to take the BYOB badge from the sidebar and place it on your own blog. Be sure to subscribe via e-mail or RSS so you receive recipe updates.



Off we go, then, to BYOB. May you enjoy a peaceful and prosperous new year, and happy baking!


~Sandy
{Update: Hi all! I feel kind of obligated to mention that there's no bread police who will come to your blog and revoke your badge if you run out for a package of hamburger rolls or take the family out for Saturday morning bagels! I don't want to get too legalistic here! If you really want to take a stab at committing to BYOB but you're waffling because you're not sure you can produce every single loaf, bun, or bagel for an entire year, please don't let that stop you from coming along on the journey. Besides, chances are, once you get started, you'll find it's less daunting than you think.}

61 comments:

Sarah Jackson said...

Are you living in my brain right now? If so, are you paying rent? I may want the extra cash for a Kitchenaid to make this whole resolution easier;-)

Seriously though, I just came back from a meditation retreat at a Buddhist Monastery. The homemade bread was so delicious! Far superior to the 100 million dollar loafs I buy in Queens.

As soon as my "Artisan Bread in 5" arrives I will let you know. We're in it to win it, Baker's Bench!

-Sarah

kellypea said...

I am seriously tempted...I've grown to love making bread -- something I never thought I'd truly enjoy. I'm already with you on the other baked items, though, so it may be quite doable....Hmmmm...

Ani said...

OK! I'm joining you in this adventure! I LOVE to bake but only do it occasionally because I thought I was too busy to do it more often. You have convinced me I CAN bake everyday! :-D It'll be tough to break my every other day stop at my local bakery though, they treat me sooo good by throwing little extras into my bag. Let's get baking! Ani

Sandy Smith said...

~Kellypea: Come on, you know you want to! Do it! Do it! Do it! :)

~Ani: Yay! Welcome on board! Your bakery will miss you, but you can still stop in to say hi. ;) Stay tuned . . . we're about to get floury.

Sandy Smith said...

~Sarah Jackson: Hahaha! Glad to hear we're on the same page! Can't wait to get started. Stay tuned!

Zoe Francois said...

Hi Sandy,

You are a woman after my own heart! Have a great time baking bread. I bet you will continue on beyond a year. With loaves as gorgeous as yours why would you ever buy bread again???

Cheers, Zoƫ

Sandy Smith said...

~Zoe: Thanks, Zoe! Coming from you, that's quite a compliment. :)

Mary Beth Magee said...

Sandy, you bring back memories! I made my own bread for several years. There's nothing like the aroma of baking bread to make even the most humble home seem like a castle! Best wishes on your journey. I will follow it with great zeal!

Blessings,
Mary Beth

Sandy Smith said...

~Mary Beth: Thanks so much, Mary Beth! I so appreciate your words of encouragement. And you're right ~ there's no perfume like the aroma of bread in the oven! :)

JohannaB said...

I was so happy to find your post. My new year's goal is to learn to bake my own bread. I'll look forward to reading all your posts through the year.

Sandy Smith said...

~JohannaB: Welcome! What a terrific goal ~ you will be so pleased with yourself (and everyone in your life will be too)! Glad to have you along on the BYOB journey!

Kate said...

I'm in! I have grown weary of buying $5.00 loaves of bread that are tasteless or stale on arrival. I have an entire shelf devoted to bread making, and even a bread machine (can I use it occasionally) which is gathering dust.

I say why not? I live alone, I have no children. I'm busy as all heck, but there is no one to argue with me -- I can bake a loaf of bread from time to time when I need it.

My goals have always been to find the perfect Pretzel Bread recipe (I've made it, but it isn't quite "there" yet), my own bagels, and my own English Muffins.

I am not a seasoned bread baker by any means, but yeast doesn't scare me. If it flops, oh well, start again with homemade tortillas, yes? They'll work for the day.

Will you be following the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day or some other book I should have on hand? I can always use an excuse for a new book!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

How did I miss this???? I am so joining this. Thanks for doing the blogroll! Imake all of our bread anyway. Maybe I can expand my horizons with this!

symphonious sweets said...

I just got "Artisian bread in 5 minutes a day", so I'd love to join!

Sandy Smith said...

Welcome aboard the bread wagon, Kate, Judy, and Symphonious Sweets!!

Colleen said...

Here's your weakest link, being single and having a healthy weight-loss goal for the year means taking care with calories while adding whole grain goodness. This BYOB pledge fits with the move away from packaged food. So, I may not make many loaves but they will be far superior to those from the grocery shelves! Thanks for the idea!

Kori said...

Thanks to Panini Happy for leading me to this blog! I have recently started to make my own bread, batch #2 (French Bread) was yesterday. Not so attractive, but very tasty! We just got the Pro 600 Kitchen Aid mixer, so I am READY!

Shirley said...

Count me in! I just got a new Kitchen Aid stand mixer and have been thinking about trying to bake my own bread.

julie jams said...

Hi There! I just posted my first BYOB post. This one is a little emotional, tied into my hectic day, but the BYOB is highlighted nicely. Thanks again for inspiring me.
Julie
http://www.juliejams.com/2009/01/shepherds-pie-makes-me-cry.html#links

Stefan Bert said...

I just read Zoe's English Muffins article and here I am; all the past year has been BYOB for us here in Islamabad! I am sure we will have a lot of great ideas to share, well done.
Stefan

allenada said...

I was a stay-at-home-mom until my youngest entered high school, and along the way I learned to bake to s-t-r-e-t-c-h our food budget and add interest (and nutrition). So when I went to "outside" work full-time, I already knew how to do all that stuff--and it was just a tad more complicated to put together a scratch muffin recipe than to read the back of an envelope and add ingredients, or to plan far enough ahead to buy bakery goods. Also, I had become sort of home-made snooty.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter's boyfriend was spending time with us--sitting in the kitchen watching me work--and said "Do you make _everything_ homemade?" And upon reflection, yeah I guess I do. Almost.

So now I'm ready to turn that "almost" into "yeah, period." This weekend already I've baked two 'Artisan-in-5' boules, a loaf of banana bread, a pan of brownies, and a batch of apple muffins--enough to send an assortment back to college with my daughter and have some leftovers for tomorrow's breakfast and dinner.

Oh, and this kind of thing makes other people _very_ happy.

ChristineC said...

I have a baby due in the Spring but I am definitely jumping on board with this! We have been baking our own baked goods all month. The thought occurred to me that I could make it a permanent thing. When I saw this over on ABin5, I knew I was heading down the right path. Thanks for putting this out there!

Roland said...

I've made the cinammon rolls after reading the Mother Earth News article, and made a boule after reading the book. Inspiring!

Mia said...

Just browsed and found your blog. I'm SO with you! I just bought the Abin5 book and made one batch.. so far so good. I've flirted with bread making in the past, but it's sooo good I've been trying to make more. This is a GREAT idea and I'm SO gonna bookmark this blog. Not sure I can make AlL my own bread - but geeze, even plain store brand sliced bread is more than 2 bucks a loaf and it's gross!

Besides, home made bread is awesome just for the smell of it baking. What more do we need?

PS what is the "truc" that makes it easier and fun?

The Road Scholar said...

I'm in, too. I have a blog at panisofmeusvita.blogspot.com and I JUST stumbled on this approach and have totally converted from being a die-hard, mix, knead, rise, punch, rise, form, bake type of bread maker! My next attempt will probably be hot dog buns. I'm thinking soft white sandwich bread would work best.

Great idea!

TeresaR said...

Hello, Sandy! I found your blog at Artisanbreadinfive.com and want to join in the 2009 BYBO. I've been baking bread for 30 years, have taught classes in my home, at a retail store when I worked retail, and at a retreat in 2007 for the Cooking Forum at Gardenweb. I recently discovered the ABin5 book and enjoy that method also. I have two sourdough cultures going in the fridge alongside lots of multi-grain cereals, seeds, and grains that I add to my breads. So far in 2009 I have not bought any bread at the grocery or a bakery - so now I'm on a mission NOT to buy any bread at all!

Terry said...

Sandy,
I too have discovered you from Artisanbreadinfive.com and am ready for the challenge you have presented. I think this will be a great companion to my local CSA; and really, who can resist the smell of bread baking? My home is going to smell wonderful. Thanks for thinking of this.

Peter M said...

With some caution...YES!

paxye said...

I have been making my bread, pizza, pita's etc. for a few years now but I am just starting to get adventurous and I want to make bagels and English muffins and other baked goods that I still reach for at the grocery store... I'm in :)

Holly said...

Hi! I just found out about this blog from Abin5 and am in!!! Just got my book yesterday and have already made 3 batches! I am determined to never buy bread again!! It is addicting! I can't wait to try out all the other yummy doughs!!! I did my first batch with my Kitchen Aid mixer, and the bread was quite dense, I went out and bought a Cambro bucket and my next 2 batches have turned out fabulous!! Just a bucket and a wooden spoon! What could be easier!!! I am a stay-at-home mom of a 3yo and a 5yo who eat sandwiches everyday for lunch and a husband who loves bread with every meal, so this will save us a ton of money!!

janetching said...

What a lovely idea, I have started learning and baking bread just before I started blogging. I like your idea of this food event. It gives me more motivation to bake more often.

Victoria said...

What a great challenge! I'm in! I already bake all our breads, bagels, and things like that, but there is some stuff I haven't tried yet, like pita bread and croissants!

KiraAJ said...

Ive ordered my book and i cant wait to do this! Ive never baked a loaf of bread in my life BUT i love to cook! My best friend has always baked her own bread and just the thought of doing it scares me! But bring it on! :)

Sarah Jackson said...

it's going well, sister! Really well! I cannot believe how easy this is. Ridiculous.

Sarah said...

I'm late but I'm on the bandwagon! I'm so excited!!!

sdfiek said...

I tilted when the price of the honey whole wheat sandwich bread I usually buy at Farmer's Market went up to $5.25 a loaf. I know that it's not easy to make a 100% whole wheat bread that doesn't look like a doorstop, but that's more than a 5# bag of KA whole wheat flour!

I used to have a wonderful Japanese bread machine and made (almost) all our bread. Then my kids started school and refused to eat anything that didn't look like everyone else's airbread. I'm gonna give it a try again now that the kids are away at college, and have to eat what's here when they come visit! My husband is looking forward to the bread even if it looks like a doorstop!

Lillian said...

I'm in. I already make most of our bread, but I can use an extra kick in the pants to stop buying sandwich bread for my sons. This should be fun!

Jennifer said...

In the last several months, I've made my own bread, homemade English muffins, pizza dough and the satisfaction of making it yourself is the best! My kids couldn't believe how great it tasted! I haven't heard of the artisan book, I'm going to have to order that!

Jim said...

Hi,

How do I join in? We've been at this as part of our overall budgeted eating plan so far this year and it's been great!

Sandy Smith said...

~Lillian and Jim: Terrific! Welcome aboard the breadwagon. If you'd like specifics on how to add the badge to your blog and your name/URL to the blogroll as well as some other info, just drop me an e-mail at Sandycastle1{AT}gmail{DOT}com.

There's no formal signup, just a personal commitment to BYOB ~ enjoy!

TeaLady said...

I love baking fresh bread and would do it every day if I could (diet not time), so count me in. I am 1/2 way through reading THE BOOK and am anxious to try the recipes. YUMMEE!!!

Karina said...

I've been baking my own bread for a few years now! It is so satisfying and a lot easier on our budget! I recently tried searching for a flour tortilla recipe. My family loves eating wraps, but they can get pricey too!

Elle said...

Great idea! Have been just using my own baked bread for the last couple of months (except for a sandwich loaf my daughter brought home when she visited...she didn't know I had some of my own in the freezer :) ), so I can hightly recommend this. What got me going was having two kinds of sourdough starter in the fridge...and hating to toss away the 'toss off' when they are fed once a week. Is there a place to send weekly (like Yeastspotting) or monthly links to the bread posts?

Sandy Smith said...

~Karina: Stay tuned; I'm planning a homemade tortilla post! :)

~Elle: Yes ~ you can e-mail me at Sandycastle1 {AT} gmail {DOT} com and I'll e-mail you back with the specifics. I do a bimonthly roundup.
Glad to have you along!

Annarasa said...

Hi Sandy,
I love to bake and more and more am baking bread at home. Would love to join with you on this baking adventure.

Apu

Basht said...

That is one of the most marvelous ideas i've heard. I'm in

Sarah said...

Can I still join? :) I was just ogling a sourdough English muffin recipe this morning . . . yum!

Best,
Sarah

Tenina said...

Love bread...having a real bread making streak right now and happened across your site...awesome LOVE IT.
thanks
Going to add you on mine!

sdfiek said...

This week is Passover, which means that my family is going cold turkey, abstaining from all leavened bread - no brodtchen, no pain d'epi, no boules. We're unashamedly addicted and there's no 12-step program. This could get ugly... :-)

Trisha said...

I'm so excited to learn about BYOB -- I'm in! I resolved at the first of '08 to quit being intimidated by yeast, but this year I've grown much more dedicated to the task. Thanks for the challenge.

raquel said...

count me in! ever since i got the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day a few months ago, i've been baking my own bread! awesome!!!

stealthmexican said...

I too am an ABin5 convert and have managed to make all of my own bread except the whole wheat raisin bagels my kids like. When I can make those, I will truly be able to declare my bread independence!

Dazy said...

Can I seriously come over for breakfast soon? ...... your recipe sounds so yummy.....

Cathy said...

Hey Sandy! Is it too late to join the bread wagon? Not sure why I didn't do this already. I make almost all of my bread anyway.

- Cathy
The Bread Experience

apronstringz said...

just found your blog and MYOB badge, cool!
are you gonna keep this going for 2010?
i've been making almost entirely all my own bread and bread products for well over ten years. hot dog buns? done it. sourdough english muffins? one of my faves!
here's a link to a post from my blog this fall called Bread Evangelizing.
http://apronstringz.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/bread-evangelizing/
would love to jump on your wagon train, if it's till chuggin!

ap269 said...

Is there going to be a BYOB 2010?

Sandy Smith said...

Yes, BYOB 2010 is definitely under way. If you'd like to join us, you can e-mail me at Sandycastle1 [at] gmail [com].

Best,
Sandy

eviedee said...

I know that I am really late to the game here, but I so appreciate this inspiration! I have been meaning to do this for a long time because I am too cheap to buy the good bread but too much of a food lover to eat the cheap stuff. Thanks for just the kick in the pants I needed!
P.S. I've made hot dogs buns from scratch before, they were delicious!

Fort Lauderdale catering said...

If you are the kind of person that likes to add a personal touch to the food that you want to serve your loved ones, then it's just fine because you cannot put a price on the thoughtfulness that you put into the creating mouth-watering meals for them. The same goes with home-made bagels and other kinds of pastries, you get to appreciate what you eat more.

Cheryl said...

My husband and I decided to start making our own bread as an anti-inflation measure. We made some delicious southern buttermilk biscuits last night - can't wait to share them with you :) I've been making my own pizza dough for almost a year and my husband now refuses to order pizza take out!

Sweet and That's it said...

Sandy,
We are in Aug 2013 now but your "Bake Your Own Bread" still moves on.
The bread basket has landed on my blog (Switzerland) and I'm honored to host it.
Many many thanks for starting this great adventure!
http://sweetandthatsit.blogspot.ch/p/bake-your-own-bread-il-cestino-del-pane.html

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