The smell of bread baking in a hot oven is something truly magnificent. It warms your cheeks as you inhale the sweet scent deep into your lungs and it instantly lifts your mood with its thick air. It’s a cozy feeling.
Baking bread may seem daunting to some, but the degree of difficulty is actually quite versatile. On one end, you can make a loaf from start to finish in just a few hours. Or if you’re interested in a more challenging process, you can make sourdough bread which can take a week to prepare.
Let’s tackle the obvious question: why spend time baking bread when you can buy it for a couple dollars at the store?
Here’s Why Baking Bread Is Worth It
There’s too many answers to this question so we’ve broken it into five sections.
#1: You Save Money
Yes, store-bought bread is cheap; but the cheapest loaves aren’t very high quality. They’re made with commercial yeast (as opposed to a starter, which we’ll explain in the next section) along with preservatives.
What if you want a fresh, whole wheat sourdough bread full of nutrients and seeds? You’ll easily pay a $4 to $7 a loaf for quality like that.
#2: Homemade Bread is Healthier
Let’s talk about commercial, store-bought yeast versus a wild sourdough starter.
First of all, commercial yeast is what you find on shelves at the grocery store. It’s used in the first few steps of baking and it feeds on sugars to make the dough rise (think about it, you normally add honey or sugar at some point).
Then we have wild sourdough starters which have been used all throughout history. The difference is what the starter eats. It feeds on natural grain sugar found in flour, which breaks down the grain into something we can easily digest.
When Louis Pasteur found a way to isolate yeast about 160 years ago and turn it into commercial yeast, it totally changed the industry.
The following quote explains what happened nutrition-wise when commercial yeast came into the market.
“Without the lactobacilli that come with wild yeast, grain proteins, including gluten, were now unchanged by the fermentation process, leaving them fully intact and hard to digest. Nutrients that became bioavailable due to a long fermentation process remained locked up once sugar became the fermentable ingredient instead of flour.”BREAD SRSLY gluten free sourdough
This means that bread made with a sourdough starter will naturally give you more healthy nutrients from the flour used to make it. BREAD SRSLY also says that their sourdough bread is safe for people with gluten intolerances to eat because of this process. Having said this, not all sourdoughs are safe for people with celiac disease, so do your research before trying anything risky.
#3: Learning the Process Feels Good
We all know that learning new things is good for the brain; you’ll feel good knowing you’re doing something that has long-term benefits.
Plus, the feeling of taking a fresh, crispy loaf out of the oven is amazing. You’ve put a lot of work into it and you’re rewarded with something delicious. Or maybe you tried a challenging recipe and it didn’t work… it will make all your successful loaves feel like a celebration!
Making sourdough bread is a lengthy process. You could spend 20 hours working on the bread itself, not to mention the weeks it takes to create and maintain a starter. Then when it finally works, seeing, smelling, and tasting your loaf is definitely worth it.
Having said this, when we say 20 hours of work it’s really only about 30 minutes of hands-on work throughout the day. It’s a series of short, specific steps to be done in order, on a schedule. The rest of the time you can relax and set a timer for the next step!
On a related note, you might be spending a lot more time in your kitchen if you take it up as a hobby.
If you’re thinking of staying in your current house for a long time or aging-in-place, consider how your kitchen is laid out in terms of accessibility. Perhaps you can upgrade some features to make cooking and baking more enjoyable and safer. Think about installing rolling drawers in your deepest storage corners. Then you won’t have to maneuver yourself into that awkward low, back-corner-cupboard reach anymore.
#4: You Can Alter Recipes to Suit Tastes & Intolerances
Buying gluten free baked goods can be expensive. The nice thing about baking things yourself is that you can change out regular flour for gluten free flour in the majority of recipes. It will generally be less expensive this way. Or you can research gluten free sourdoughs, too.
Plus, you can add lots of extra ingredients for additional nutrients and flavour. You can experiment with sunflower seeds, flax, herbs, nuts, and so much more. You can even play around with the ingredients of the starter, itself to get different flavours.
#5: Loaves Make Beautiful Gifts
Potluck? Bring a loaf. Having company in? Have a loaf ready. Need extra Christmas gifts? Bake a loaf! They’re a versatile gift that most anyone will appreciate.
If you’re looking for a new hobby, baking bread can be very enjoyable and rewarding. You can make the process as simple or extravagant as you like, so there’s always a challenging aspect available.