I had not made bread in years. Really, not since cullinary school in my twenties. I don't tend to use ovens very often, prefering a stove-top. However, my wife had been talking about wanting to make bread. In our house, her talking about cooking things usually means that she wants to eat a specific thing and would be just as happy for me to cook it. Which suits me just fine. So I took the hint the other night and the three of us (me, my wife, my daughter) all worked together to make a simple soda bread.

It was much more delicious than I had remembered soda bread being. It was soft in the middle and had a wonderful hard crust. We finished off the loaf over the next day or two.

I then tried out a recipe I found for another quick bread. This time it was more of a dessert bread with cinnamon and brown sugar. For this one I used a loaf pan and before baking plunged a knife into the dough and did a figure-eight pattern with it to produce a marbled effect with the cinnamon-sugar. It came out really nice. The amount of sugar is astronomical, though. I am not much of a dessert person, but do like the occasional cinnamon roll or the like, so this hit the spot/scratched an itch. I didn't add it to the website since I don't really intend to be making a lot of dessert bread, whereas I will be doing more soda bread.

I'm trying to decide what to try next... I heard about salt-rising bread, which sounds really interesting. I found a recipe that does not call for any chemical leavening agent or store-bought yeast, which is a big plus in its favor. I like self sufficiency as much as it can be achieved (clearly, I still need flour... though we are planning to grow wheat in the spring; that is a story for another post though). That made me think more about using wild yeast for breads. It is an interesting idea. It is pretty cold here right now and I don't have a good way to keep the starter warm for the salt-rising bread. So I may have to wait. In the meantime, maybe I'll try a rye blend (rye with a bit of either wheat or added vital wheat gluten) with instant dry yeast. We'll see.

We are still doing all of this baking in our little toaster oven. Until we redo our kitchen we only have the toaster oven. Someday we will have a decent oven again. Now that I am rediscovering the joy of self-made bread I may see a bit of a rennaisance in oven usage in my home.

Update 01/17/24

I tried a variation on the above listed soda bread. I replaced some of the all purpose flour with rye flour and added a bit of vital wheat gluten (to make up for the lower gluten content in the rye). I also used soy milk instead of almond. A few things happened...

  1. The same amount of liquid to the same amount of dry ingredients was much wetter. Maybe the rye doesn't absorb water as well?
  2. As a result of 1 (above) it was much harder to work with
  3. It did not rise nearly as much
  4. It came out, but was really ugly
  5. It has a very strong rye flavor (nutty/earthy)
  6. I decided I didn't like it

So next time we will be going back to the drawing board as far as variations are concerned. I've seen people get good results with using only all-purpose flour, but I like having some whole wheat in there. Maybe we'll try adding nuts (but no fruit, I draw the line there).

In other news, the sweet quick bread that was mentioned last time has continued to be delicious. So that I can find it later, or in the unlikely event of someone actually reading this blog, here is the recipe source for the cinnamon bread. I am pretty sure you could cut the sugar by at least 25% and still have a very tasty/sweet loaf. I may try a much lower sugar version (maybe 50%?) at some point. It was just too much sugar, but is really delicious.

UPDATE 01/29/2024

We made the cinnamon bread again, but I adjusted the recipe to use less sugar. We also cooked it in our, now working, oven (rather than the toaster oven). It was absolutely wonderful. As such, I have added it to the recipes on this site.