Newspaper article The Canadian Press

No Knead to Fear Bread-Baking: Making Fresh Loaves at Home on the Rise

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

No Knead to Fear Bread-Baking: Making Fresh Loaves at Home on the Rise

Article excerpt

Get the dough: Home bread-making on the rise

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LONDON, Ont. - Although it comes in many forms, bread is arguably the most universal food. It is still made essentially the same way as a thousand years ago. So even with all the modern conveniences to take the heavy labour out of the job, why are so many cooks today intimidated by making bread at home?

"Everything's so easy when you can go out and buy it," says Mike Matthews, owner of Arva Flour Mills, just north of London. Established in 1819, it is Canada's oldest continuously operating, water-powered flour mill. "It's not that hard to bake a loaf of bread, but people forgot it wasn't that hard."

Chuck Wingenbach of Vancouver agrees. "Out of all the baked items out there ... bread is something people are sort of afraid of," says the former restaurateur, who created thekneadforbread.com website eight years ago and now runs it full-time.

But both believe home bread-making is on the upswing. There was a minor resurgence when bread machines first became available, they say, although many now sit unused in cupboards.

But the "whole slow food movement and eating locally and knowing what's in your food" are all factors in a renewed interest in homemade bread, Matthews says. "And when the economy went down and people were losing their jobs, (they) started doing things for themselves."

Wingenbach says it may have a lot to do with dietary needs and preferences. "More people now are getting into organics. A lot more people want the whole-grain breads, seeded bread, whole-wheat, gluten-free, getting farther away from white bread."

His website offers step-by-step, fully illustrated recipes for all kinds of bread and gets about 2,000 visitors a day from around the world, he says.

Wingenbach had always loved and made bread at home, but his "passion" for it began when he owned a soup and sandwich shop. He makes it by hand, without benefit of dough-kneading equipment.

"I love feeling the dough and kneading the dough. There's something sort of spiritual about it. It's sort of a meditating time, just slowly kneading for 10 or 15 minutes."

Kneading is the most important part of the process, he says. "You have to create the gluten (the protein in flour) and the only way you can do that is by working the dough. That causes the dough to become elastic. As you work it and knead it, you create the gluten strands and build the protein within the bread. Then it starts to stretch. And that's what's going to give you your rise."

Wingenbach feels the most important development in bread-making is instant yeast, which does not have to be activated in water. He uses it in everything. After it's opened, it can be refrigerated for two or three months or frozen for up to six months.

He says "artisan" breads with crunchy crusts are tricky to make because home ovens aren't hot enough. …

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