Breaking Bread

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Megan Smith

Photos by Megan Smith

Over the course of the next five months, I will develop some pretty incredible forearm muscles. My hands will become stronger and my short fingernails will need to be cleaned often. I’ll forgo wearing black unless I have on an apron, I’ll keep my hair pulled back in a ponytail, my house will continually stay warm, and it will smell like heaven around 5 p.m. every day. These winter months are my bread baking months.

Fresh bread isn’t anticipated anymore. It’s expected. And I gladly rise to the occasion because for me, baking bread is just about the most cathartic, relaxing and cozy experience I can conjure up this time of year.

Baking a loaf of bread may seem like a daunting task for most, and arguably so. It really is an art that must be honed. It takes practice and patience and a willingness to work within the margin of error.

But the result? The reward for all of that hard work and effort? A loaf of delicious bread and the status of “baker extraordinaire” in your household.

This recipe makes a great basic loaf of white sandwich bread. Yes, I’m aware of the health debate between white vs. wheat. But in the realm of bread baking, start out using white flour, which is far more forgiving (and rewarding) for a novice baker. As relatively simple as this is, even a pro will find it a great addition to the baking repertoire. Perfect for sandwiches, sliced thick and topped with apple butter or served with a smear of butter to dip in a piping hot bowl of tomato soup.

American Sandwich Bread

Time: about 2 hours (lots of inactive time)

Yield: one 9-inch loaf

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