In the Netherlands, bread is generally sold in plastic bags. You could go to a bakery, and ask them to leave the wrapping off, but you could also learn to bake your own bread. This way, you can be certain about the ingredients in them. Besides, the smell of baking bread is delicious, and the kneading is actually quite zen. Bread making does not take that much active time, perhaps only about 20min. The rest is waiting for the dough to rise and the bread to bake. So why not give it a try?
A very simple recipe that works quite well for me:
Ingredients for 2 loaves
14 gr dry yeast (buy in bulk to avoid all the wrapping)
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp honey (or sugar)
6 cups all purpose flour
~1tbsp salt, ~3 tbsp olive oil
Mix the yeast with the water and the honey. Wait a little.
Add the flour, salt, and oil. Mix and knead for about 10min. Let it rise to double size in a bowl covered with a wet towel.
Knead the dough again, flatten it out and roll it up to a bread shape you like, or put the roll in a bread form. Let it rise again to almost the size you want it to be when done. You can cut into the top so the dough does not break, and to give the loaf a nice look. When I don’t want to wait too long, I let the bread rise in the oven at about 40 degrees C.
Bake in oven for 30min at 180 degrees Celcius. Let it cool off.
The result is a nice white bread with a very soft crust. It does not have the structure yet of store-bought bread, but it is getting close enough that my picky husband is eating it voluntarily. I don’t know why, but the rising works better when making 2 loaves at the same time.
Just today I discovered this great website: The Fresh Loaf. It features a great set of lessons that takes you through the different ingredients and steps in bread making, including tips on how to get a better end result. I will definitely be trying out some if his advice, such as: adding more sugar, preferment, autolyse, more water, less punching down in the last step, and baking at higher heat. If it works out well, I’ll post the new and improved recipe, with pictures.