comments: 165

Bread 001

Raining, raining, raining. Rainy afternoons this week. I have a new cookbook called The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr. I LOVE this book. I am reading it cover to cover and I'm about halfway through. What I love about it is that it is basically written for young adults, so it is thorough yet totally unintimidating, and I have already learned so much about the basics that I didn't really know. I also really love the photography — it's very homey and natural and just . . . not precious, somehow. It's gorgeous, and exactly what I've been looking for without even knowing that I was looking for it. I am really excited about this book.

Bread 005

In the past twenty years that I have been cooking, I honestly don't think I have ever made my own bread. Like, bread that has to be kneaded and rise and be kneaded and rise, etc. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I suppose I was just intimidated. And lazy. And I just didn't think I could do it so that it would actually be good. It seemed like a lot of work for something that would be sucky. Because baking bread had always seemed to me like reupholstering stuff, or dyeing your hair, or making Chinese food — not something you can ever do as well at home (at least I can't).

Bread 006

But when I read the recipe for raisin bread, I knew that I wanted to try. I thought it would be perfect for a rainy afternoon break. I had a new cast-off piece of countertop granite to knead on that my neighbor gave me, and I hadn't yet used it.

Bread 007

In the pantry I had everything I needed except for the orange marmalade (so I used honey), and I forgot to mix the raisins in with the dry ingredients, and I realized later that I had used active dry yeast instead of instant. But look: DOUGH!

Bread 008

It was so cool. It worked exactly as they said it would. Kneading, it turns out, is NO BIG DEAL. I kneaded the dough, which started out as a shaggy, lumpy blob and slowly became smoother, more elastic, and, I have to say, beautiful [wipes away tear]:

Bread 009

I know that breadmaking is sort of a sacred art. I had read about the mysterious alchemy of yeast, flour, and water before. I had heard people talk about dough in terms both passionate and humbled. In that moment when the dough comes together, you feel, for just one second, like you get it.

It's really, really neat. Thank you, book! I put the dough it its bowl to rise for two hours, and I have to tell you that I was pretty excited.

Bread 010

'Night 'night, darling! Time for your nap.

Bread 011

By four o'clock, it had indeed doubled! Just like they said! It rose to a "great big puffy, ballooned mass, twice its orignal size"! I punched it down (fun) and kneaded it a bit more, then laid it nicely in its pink pan for twenty more minutes before popping it into the hot oven.

Bread 012

When I opened the oven door I said, out loud,

Bread 002


Bread 003

'Cause I did!


BetsyBF says: May 06, 2009 at 09:00 AM

I felt the same way when I made bread for the first time this year (though I used my trusty KitchenAid to do the hard work of kneading. It really is magical.

Oh that is BEAUTIFUL! I'm not surprised you are delighted with it! Lucy x

I cannot wait to check out that book. Your bread looks delicious. I love cookbooks like that...ones you just want to read cover to cover. I just bought a fun ookbook, The Farm Chicks in The Kitchen. You have inspired me to make bread. Thanks.

~Sarah of

Ha ha that was such a fun post! your bread looks delicious i am very very impressed i bet it tastes as good as it looks.

sara jane says: May 06, 2009 at 09:10 AM

Homemade bread is food of the Gods.
Now that you have the labor intensive method under your belt, take a look at (google) No-Knead bread - magical stuff, I tell you, and dead easy.

And it really is a thing of beauty!

Well done! Makes me want to take another stab at it :)

Yay!! I felt exactly the same way when I made bread last year for the first time. Now you will be hooked. For the past three months I've been on a no-wheat diet, but I love the bread making process (and the results) so much I was still making bread for my husband. Torture? Yes, indeed.

Nice! :) I love that book, too. The marshmallow recipe looks fun, but I haven't tried it yet.

Blessings on your new bread-making adventures! (You can't stop now, right?) :)

Did having Hugh help you along make it easier?

Ha! Right ON.

I have come to love making my own bread. I haven't bought bread in almost 8 months, and it is such a wonderful weekly ritual. I've started spending my Sunday evenings in the kitchen, and it is the best beginning to a week.
Your loaf looks lovely!

Yum! What a fun post! Congrats, glad to see you're spending your rainy afternoons the right way. =)

Your bread look really excellent. Good work.

Hugh F-W is a bit of a national treasure in the UK.


you must must must find a way to watch hugh's tv shows! i love him and his philosophy about food. i keep waiting for him to cross over to the american market. i have this book as well and have loved everything i've made. the bean and sausage stew was a recent winner.

You are so funny! I read the title of this post and I was saying, "What is IMB?"

Then I when I got to the end I lauged. "I made bread!" 'Cause yes you did! It looks great. Hope you enjoy eating it as much as you enjoyed making it.

I love homemade bread but I have never tried making it myself. But when I do I will have to remember to exclaim, "OMG,IMB!" Because I did.

My, what a GORGEOUS loaf of yumminess! I have never tackled bread, either. Always felt intimidated by it, somehow. This lovely post from you just might help inspire me to try....

Courtney says: May 06, 2009 at 09:34 AM

You did, indeed! And a beautiful loaf it was. Congratulations and well done!

That's a beautiful loaf! Also, I have to tell you that we've been devouring your strawberry shortcake the past two nights...perfect shortcake recipe, epitome of summer (we're in Phoenix, so yes, it is SUMMER already...100!). My 2 year old calls it "strawberries, and CREAM!" We all love it, thanks so much for sharing it last year!

Oh, how lovely! I use the bread machine to make most of our bread, for many of the same reasons you feared breadmaking. But now I'm inspired try my hand at acoustic kneading!

Welcome to the world of bread-- it's awesome!

ooooh, i love the smell of fresh baked bread. I have a bread maker but it just isn't as much fun. I too love hugh, i make myhusband watch all the tv shows with me, i'm sure he secretly enjoys them too. Congratulations on your lovely loaf, it looks delicious x

What a yummy post! Ahhh bread, I love it...but it doesn't love me, goes right to my rear side. Your post made me hungry, I'm not kidding, my stomach is growling right now!! Love your blog, so beautiful and inspiring. Now I'm off to go find a piece of bread. :)

Homemade Bread! Congrats. super fun to make, and better than anything from the supermarket. I made cream cheese danish on the weekend to get my baking fix.

What next? handmade soap? (very cool to make) country wine? infused vinegar? preserves (huckleberry jam!)? spinning? dyeing?

P.S. Chinese food isn't too difficult (4 dozen pot stickers all at once)

That looks awesome! It makes me want to run into the kitchen and make a loaf right now! Great job!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at