The Stuff of Life

The Stuff of Life
For those of us who find nature to be both aesthetically beautiful and life-sustaining.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why Men Should Bake Bread and Other Survival Tips

In the bakeries of yesterday, there was the aroma of fresh baking loaves of goodness pouring into the cobblestone streets on every corner. When we think of the imagery of the bread bakeries from these times, we generally picture a well-rounded man stirring, mixing, proofing, shaping and displaying his breads for the community to scoop up and take home for the evening meal. But, today the average bread baker is viewed as, well, our mommy. If you weren't lucky enough to be raised in a home where mom baked fresh bread, don't fret, but you need to read the rest of this post even more. The truth is that there are ample numbers of men baking bread. When I look at bread baking blogs, many of the commentary posts are from men. Most of my mentors and favorite bread baking experts are also men. Many of my frequently watched YouTube videos of bread baking techniques are also men. So, why do so many men have an aversion to the kitchen and bread baking? Well, my thoughts are that they have just never baked a loaf of bread themselves....yet. I propose that any self-respecting outdoors man, hunter, wilderness survivalist or self-reliance enthusiast not only is quite capable of baking a beautiful loaf of bread, but should.

Creating a loaf of bread puts a man in touch with the staff of life. The experience takes them back in time. As I have introduced men to making bread, I have found that they are very enthusiastic about the final product and their new found skill. But, it goes beyond this. Once a man has successfully baked a loaf of bread in the oven, this new ability can extend to open fire bread in a dutch oven, bread from the grill or even bread in a solar powered oven. The ability to make bread brings a sense of pride and accomplishment and only accentuates all of his other skills and abilities. Plus, it's a great way to impress your wife or girlfriend.

I hope that if you are a man reading this, you will accept my challenge and attempt a loaf of bread. Try it and decide for yourself whether it will be something you never attempt again or your new found passion. The first thing you should do no matter what is get yourself a cast iron dutch oven 8 to 10 quarts in size with a lid. You need one anyway. Outdoor cooking in cast iron is the best way to prepare a variety of foods over an open fire with coal strategically placed underneath the pot and on the lid. If you are using the cast iron outside and inside then you will want to get the dutch oven that comes with legs. You may have a bit of balancing procedures to work through as you place a pot with legs in your oven, but it is an option rather than getting two ovens. I have several cast iron dutch ovens and use them a lot. I use them in bread baking quite frequently. The best loaf of bread for men to create is bread from a cast iron dutch oven. I will share a very easy bread recipe with you and hope that you will give it a try.

My Manly Dutch Oven Bread Recipe:

3 cups + 3 Tablespoons of bread flour or all-purpose
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 2/3 cups room temperature water
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
cornmeal for dusting the bottom of the cast iron dutch oven

1. I am going to keep this super easy. There are orders to put the ingredients in on most recipes, but I want you to just dump the ingredients into a large bowl (make sure bowl is big enough for the dough to have room to rise) and stir it up with a wooden spoon or mix it with your hands. Just mix it enough to combine ingredients. It will be a wet, sticky dough.

2. Now, place a towel over it and simply walk away for 15 hours or a few more if you want. Go to a movie, take a nap, go to bed for the night, go to work whatever you want. Just walk away.

3. After the 15 hours or so, squish the dough around a few times and loosely shape it into a round object. Pour the dough into another bowl that you have greased. Place a towel over it and walk away again. This time you can mow the lawn, read a magazine, play with the dog and still probably have time left. Walk away for 4-5 hours a little less or a little more is fine too.

4. An hour before your wait time is up, place your cast iron in the oven and set the oven at 475.

5. Right before your time is up, pull the pot out and sprinkle some corn meal in the bottom of it. Cover it well with the corn meal so the bread won't stick. Pour or scrape the dough into the pot, put the lid on and place it in the oven. Bake it covered for 30 minutes.

6. Pull it out and take the lid off and bake it uncovered for an additional 15-20ish minutes more. I watch mine at this point. You want a dark browned, crusty looking bread. The crust of this bread is crunchy and chewy and fabulous. The interior of the bread is soft and chewy. Because you spent so much time walking away from this bread and because you used only a little yeast, it's developed lots of flavor.

7. Show off your loaf of bread that you created and teach your friends too.

Man Makes Bread

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