By Brittany Hughes, Staff Writer
In the age of Pinterest and other craft sites, many Union students have caught the “do it yourself” bug. Bread-making is the newest craze to hit.
Kate Allen, senior art major and bread enthusiast, started making bread after seeing several bread recipes online. One of her favorites is an artisan bread recipe she found at artisanbreadinfive.com.
“I was always interested in baking,” Allen said. “Bread-making had always seemed difficult, but my friend gave me an easy recipe … so I tried it.”
Allen’s interest in bread making did not stop with her first batch of dough. Since making her first loaf, she has bought a few bread books and has even passed on her knowledge.
“I first got into making bread over J–term,” said Kathleen Hartsfield, a sophomore public relations major. “Kate scheduled a bread-making class in her dorm room.”
Allen’s recipe requires approximately 45 minutes preparation time, plus about three hours to allow the dough to rest and rise. It bakes for 30 minutes.
The act of making bread is not a mundane activity; both Allen and Hartsfield said they find it enjoyable. When asked why bread making was becoming such a trend, Allen credited its sudden popularity to the economic downturn.
“It’s really cool because (bread) is cheap to make,” Allen said. “You only have to pay for flour and yeast. I think people have figured out that it’s cheap, easy to do and fun.”
However, Hartsfield said she believes the popularity can be contributed to how hands-on the process can be. She also hinted that she enjoys making the carbohydrate–rich food for internal rather than external reasons.
“People want to experience something outside of the norm,” Hartsfield said. “They yearn for something more tactile and that they can be involved in. It’s so thought-provoking. I’m used to doing things quickly, and so it teaches me to slow down a little bit.”
Hartsfield also finds the time she spends with others while making the bread something to be treasured.
“By baking bread with each other you are building community,” Hartsfield said. “That’s something that can be hard to do in college because we’re all busy.”
Both Hartsfield and Allen agreed that it takes tremendous patience to carry out the task of making bread.
“It takes a lot of patience, because it takes about six hours total to make the bread,” Allen said.
Aside from having patience, a person must be prepared to be nearly perfect in his or her execution.
“The whole process is very specific; you have to use very specific measurements,” Hartsfield said.
Making bread also proves to be a better option for those who are health-conscious.
“Since you’re making it yourself, it makes you appreciate and be more thoughtful about what you put into your body,” Hartsfield said.
Both women offered tips to novices.
“Just try it,” Allen said. “It’s hard to mess up; and just have patience.”
Hartsfield’s advice: “Don’t let the minor difficulties stop you.” Everybody needs to eat, and bread you make tastes a lot better than store-bought bread.
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
3. Place a broiler pan on bottom of oven. Preheat for 20 minutes.
4. Dust dough with flour, and slash top with serrated knife three times. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Let cool.