Kneading Bread

I’ve been making all my own bread here lately. One, because I bought a wonderful new cookbook called <a href=”The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking in Any Kitchen“>The Prairie Homestead Cookbook, (this link is an affiliate link through Amazon) and there are many new bread recipes I’ve been trying; and two, one of my springtime goals is to not buy store-bought bread.

Although I’ve been making homemade bread for years, I’ve branched out a little. A few years ago, I began my homemade bread journey with My Mama’s Homemade Bread. I never have owned a bread machine, although when I was growing up, my mama would occasionally make her white bread or buy some that went in her bread machine. I can still hear the whiiirr of the bread machine now.

As I got more adventurous in the kitchen, I began my first rye sourdough starter, and used it to bake bread and ferment oatmeal. This starter was for a recipe called Artisan Sourdough Bread found in the <a href=”Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook: Eat Up and Slim Down with More Than 350 Healthy Recipes“>Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook (this link is an affiliate link through Amazon). In this recipe, rye and spelt flour was used. It tasted great to me, but it was “too hard” for my husband’s liking. Maybe I just cooked it wrong. But I made it a few times then decided to move on.

Well, I have made low-carb breads, banana breads, zucchini breads…and now here we are, and I’m sourdough’ing, kneading, and rising every few days.

I love love love making my own bread.

Just a few minutes ago, I was actually kneading some dough for pasta. Two days ago, I was kneading a loaf of sourdough bread. And I got to thinking…

Man, these women that make their own bread all the time must have killer forearm muscles!

My recipes call for kneading the bread 8-10 minutes. When you’re working dough…this is a long time! I made it 6 minutes pretty easy, then my hands and wrists started turning to jello.

So there’s that.

Centuries old sourdough bread recipes are such a good workout! I really get into it, too. I even end up standing on my tiptoes pushing the dough flat. I figure if I’m fixing bread I might as well burn a few calories!

Finally, I wanted to remark on the changes the dough goes through as you knead.

You start out with flour…maybe some salt, water, yeast, egg…whatever other ingredient goes into your recipe. You start to incorporate it slowly, then in another minute, there’s a mass of gritty dough in the bowl. You’ll plop that out onto a floured surface, and start working it. It goes from a rough feeling ball to a smooth, soft finish.

It’s amazing the changes that you see from freshly mixed to kneaded after 10 minutes. Feeling the change beneath your fingertips makes that 10 minutes of hard work worth it!

Maybe I’m looking into this too deeply. But isn’t anything in life like kneading bread?

You start out a globby rough mess, but if you work long and hard enough, something beautiful happens, doesn’t it? All the time and energy I’ve taken out of my day to hand knead bread is worth it to me.

I’ve personally added each ingredient and worked it with my hands to get it to form the perfect consistency and feel. Then it rests, rises, and it’s put in the oven to bake.

Then what comes out is warm and delicious.

It’s definitely worth it to realize what happens when you take a little extra time and energy to make something special.

Not to mention it goes really well with butter.

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