I have made the family’s bread for years. It is a joy and immensely more satisfying to eat. I find pounding the dough therapeutic, but when I was pregnant for the second time, I found it almost impossible to knead the dough. My muscles were just too relaxed, so I opted for a bread machine. It was convenient to throw everything in and let it do the work, sometimes overnight. Even once my muscles had recovered from the pregnancy, I continued to use the bread machine. I put up with the sweeter taste, as the recipe required sugar, basically because it was easy and I didn’t have to think about it.
Just before Christmas, my breadmaker pan sprang a leak, making it unusable. Instead of replacing the pan, I decided it was time to rediscover handmaking bread again. I started researching, not just recipes but also the different flour and yeast.
I opted for fresh yeast, but before I swapped it, I changed my flour. I discovered that bread flour has a w value. It turns out that the bigger the w value, the better the flour for breadmaking. I found a bag of Marriage’s Manitoba bread flour in Costco which I’m told is meant to have a value exceeding 350. Whatever the value is, I am amazed at the results. The dough rises faster and fuller. The resulting bread is lighter than I was achieving with my previous bread flour. Next I mixed it with a locally stone ground wholemeal flour (which I am guessing has a fairly high w value, but I don’t know what it is) and it produces a tasty, light loaf. I then switched to the fresh yeast and if anything it seemed to be lighter.
I try to source our food as locally as possible, so it feels a bit of a let down to be buying flour from Canada. I will keep looking but, for the moment, I have resigned myself to a compromise between reducing food miles and making bread that the family will eat.
This was not a scientific experiment and the results are anecdotal, but I do feel I have rediscovered the joy of breadmaking, which is a good job as the family have discovered how much they like eating it.