I've always been impressed with my grandmother's stories about her mother, who always made her own bread for their family of nine. Her descriptions of the warm, delicious smell prompted me to give it a try.
Lately, baking our own bread has become a norm around here. Here is a simple, tried and true recipe I've been using for ages. It makes for a delicious bread with crispy crust, and doesn't require a bread machine. To be honest, right now I can't think why I'd need a bread machine anyway.
I've always assumed bread-making must be a lot of work. But in fact, if you are using good, active yeast, nothing could be easier. I freeze my yeast, then activate it with some warm water and a bit of sugar. I don't add the yeast to the dough until I see nice bubbling.
Bread-making doesn't take a lot of time, either. Sure, rising of the dough can take several hours - even up to half a day, if I knead and let rise twice - but in the meantime, I just go about my business. It's not like I need to pay constant attention to the bread. As for mixing and kneading - I doubt it takes over fifteen minutes, honestly. And there you go, my bread is ready to be popped into the oven!
Bread has become awfully expensive around here lately. Last time we had a store-bought loaf, I calculated that I could make half a dozen (!) loaves for the same price. And the taste of homemade vs. store-bought bread? It's surprising how my simple bread tastes so much better. Not to mention that it's more filling, so we don't need to eat much of it to feel satisfied.
The only drawback, perhaps, is that my bread doesn't remain fresh for a very long time, compared to store-bought. But of course, that's because I don't add any preservatives. My solution for now is to make just one loaf at a time, and frequently enjoy the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread.