I love baking bread. It was something I took up more in passing than with a real intention to start doing it regularly. My mother has baked bread for years after learning from a woman in a casual conversation that you get the most nutrients from wheat only if you use it within 24 hours of it being ground. It’s been her policy ever since.
She buys her wheat from a local grocer in 30 lb bags. She uses her kitchen aid to grind it right then and immediately makes bread out of it. It is the best bread you could ever have.
She gave me her old bread-maker and I started doing a few recipes here and there. The first few loaves turned out dense and doughy. I wasn’t sure why so I asked my mother. “You have to make friends with your yeast”, she said.
I hadn’t been using the right temperature for the yeast and hadn’t let it sit long enough to form a good head. You want the water to be at about 105 to 115 degrees. This is nice warm water but not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast. You also don’t want it to be too cool. My kitchen is really drafty so I put it in my oven to proof in a controlled area.
We have found we prefer herb breads coated with butter just before finished baking for a crisp buttery crust. I don’t think I will EVER go back to store bought bread. I plan to eventually ditch the bread maker but for now it’s nice because I don’t have to do a thing but put the ingredients in. There is nothing like coming home to the smell of fresh baked bread filling your home.