Bread making is an art form. There is something so beautiful about a perfectly baked loaf of hot-from-the-oven, crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside bread. It can evoke strong emotions, drive away the clouds on a rainy day, bring the family together around a table, and turn a bowl of stew into a feast! Some of the most memorable items I’ve eaten in my life were surrounded by, accompanied with, or just plain a piece of perfect bread.
My love of food is decades old, but my baking abilities have been (and still are) a work-in-progress. A few years ago, I made it one of my New Year’s resolutions to make a loaf of bread a week until I had “mastered” the art of baking bread. It was April by the time I knew what I was doing. I could tell based on the weather how well my dough would rise, I had found the perfect place in my house for the bread to rest, and I knew with my eyes closed when just the right amount of flour & kneading had been accomplish. To this day, it is one of the only New Year’s Resolutions I actually succeeded in checking off my list!
This small challenge has drastically changed the way I cook. Fresh-baked breads are now a staple to many of our meals & snacks, they often tag along as part of a dinner I take friends or family, and I whip up a batch of rolls, buns, or loaves with no stress, no fuss, and little extra time in my day! I highly encourage that if you’re not comfortable with your bread baking, this New Year, consider challenging yourself to master this art.
I’ve got the perfect recipe to get you started! This Rustic Italian Bread is extremely simple, very versatile (throw in a clove of roasted garlic, fresh herbs like Rosemary or Thyme, or top it with grated cheese for a whole new variety), and tough to screw up. I can’t wait to hear how you make this basic bread recipe your own favorite mouthful.
Once you’ve mastered this one, try a dessert variety like Chocolate Babka Bread – makes perfect holiday gifts and is delicious as a breakfast bread with a strong cup of coffee!!