Homemade bread is another one of those magical things that at one point seemed like a farfetched kind of thing. Only serious bakers make bread right? No! This is something that, in our very recent past, everyone knew how to do, and now it’s almost foreign. Thankfully there has been a resurgence of this kind of knowledge with people trying to regain some autonomy. There is still an idea to a lot of people that is a super involved process that takes a huge amount of time. The truth is, you can put any amount of work into it that you want. You can make a slow fermented sourdough loaf with your own homegrown yeast or you can make a simple no knead peasant loaf that you haphazardly threw together then leave until its ready to bake. This recipe is one of the simple ones, but with a bit of a twist.
I really enjoy making bread. I find it deeply satisfying to make. I figured for my first post on bread I would post the recipe that I use most often. This is the root recipe that I have used for everything. Most of the time I make just a basic loaf of sandwich bread to fill our grilled cheese needs.
This recipe is very simple and very forgiving. You can tuck it in the fridge to rise slower if you want to finish it later, or if you need to jump ahead in the process and skip some of the first rising time, while it’s not ideal it still works out. I have also skipped a bunch of the kneading. Sometimes you just don’t have ten minutes to devote to something that is time sensitive when there’s a kid pulling at your skirt or someone’s had a diaper blow out and your attention is required. As long as the loaf is together, sometimes that’s good enough.
I’ve also baked this loaf in every way. I’ve braided it, made a boule, put it in a loaf pan, and even used it for a baguette.
Here comes the festive part. I decided to try painting on my loaves to make them a little bit festive and a little spooky. This process was very simple but took a little bit of practice. I became comfortable with it in the end, as with most things.
So, for this process I used an egg and some activated charcoal. You could use anything for pigment as long as it’s edible. I am looking forward to experimenting with this more in the future.
I took one egg and whisked it then separated it into two bowls. I added ½ tsp of activated charcoal to one and left the other.
Half way into the baking process of the loaves, I took them out and started the painting. I tried to keep the times out of the oven short so as to not completely mess with the baking process. I had a timer set for 5 minutes at all times so I always knew how much time was passing whether it was in the oven or on the counter.
I found it helpful to first paint on my image with the plain egg wash and then with the activated charcoal egg wash.
I used the plain egg wash like I would water or a medium if I were painting normally.
For the layered images like in my graveyard, I painted a layer then placed in the oven for a couple minutes then removed it and painted another layer. I was careful to watch how long it spent in the oven overall. The baking time was a little longer since they would cool down slightly while being painted.
This is one of those things that will definitely get better with more practice. It’s also something that can be used for any occasion. It would also make a great custom gift, how fun would it be to get a note written on loaf of bread!