I used to be so intimidated by the thought of making homemade bread. I assumed that, to make a proper loaf, you needed a bread machine. Moving to a foreign land where a bread machine was not at my fingertips changed all of that. Forcing me to make bread with my very own hands has become both therapeutic and rewarding. In the middle of trying to achieve balance, getting the right amount of rest, and remembering to breathe, there's nothing like the stretching, punching, and kneading of dough that can relax you. And if that doesn't work, a hot slice of fresh bread lathered in butter should do the trick.
I recently discovered some bread cookbooks by Peter Reinhardt. I'd heard of him here and there through friends and other bloggers, but it wasn't until recently that I actually ordered one of his books for myself. His techniques seem so spot on that I can't believe I haven't stumbled upon them before. I really believe the stretching, folding, and refrigeration really add to a perfect loaf of perfectly risen bread.
So far I've only made the 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf but also on my list are the bagels, english muffins, ciabatta, 100% whole grain pizza dough, rye and seed crackers, and croissants! I think I seriously need to have a bread making party in order to make all of that! Relax...breathe...a little at a time, Jen...
In case you're interested the cookbook in the picture is Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. If you're a bread maker or wanting to be one, it's a fabulous book to add to your cooking library.