The smell of freshly baked bread is one of the most welcoming in the world. It has become a useful ruse in the property selling game and in supermarkets. The smell is said to make people feel happy and relaxed thus making them more likely to look favorably on a property or buy more in a store.
Are there any actual health benefits of making your own bread? The answer is yes. When you make bread at home you are in control of every ingredient that goes into the dough. Looking at the list of contents on a standard, shop-bought loaf can give you nightmares. The vast majority of people do not actually know what an emulsifier is or why a flour treatment agent is necessary
Most shop-bought loaves contain the ‘mystical’ ingredient monoglycerides. This is actually another name for hydrogenated fats, also known as Trans Fats. They have been labeled the ‘silent killer’ due to their connection with increasing the chances of coronary heart disease.
You could also be eating calcium sulfate which is another name for Plaster of Paris. It is used as a firming agent in dough. Or how about munching on some calcium propionate? This is used to inhibit the growth of mold.
These facts alone may well make you reach for your recipe books. A loaf baked at home will be as natural as you can make it or choose for it to be. Organic products will give you a healthy loaf without feeding your family additives that you don’t understand and sometimes don’t even know are there.
So, you want to make bread at home? Are there any other benefits? There are some which are less obvious but equally important. One of the great benefits is the chance to involve your family. Young children can help measure, pour and mix and teens have been known to enjoy kneading and shaping dough. Perhaps you won’t end up with a polished masterpiece but it will taste fabulous and that is far more important.
Back on the health trail there is a hidden benefit in bread making. There is something deeply therapeutic in the hypnotic gathering, kneading and stretching actions required when working dough. This allows your mind to wander and many a problem and solution has been discovered as hands automatically follow a pattern and the mind ponders.
Not to be ignored is the opportunity to relieve anger and frustration as you knead. All that pounding and stretching of the dough can really help relieve stress. Add to this the pleasure gained in taking a freshly baked loaf from the oven and allowing the aroma to pervade the house as it cools. Making bread at home is good for your mental health.
Making your own bread is also cheaper. Although it may initially cost you more as you equip your kitchen with the necessary tools, should you not have them, in the long run you will spend less. One way to look at this is to consider a bag of flour. One bag may give you as many as 6 or 8 loaves for the price of one shop-bought loaf. In these difficult economic times those pennies can make a real difference.
Another overlooked benefit is that making your bread at home when you have young children is the chance to teach. Not only can you teach the basics of making the bread but you can improve their understanding of the world. A loaf of bread is something we take for granted. It’s simply there when we need it.
Making your bread at home allows you to teach children about the work required to produce the food they eat. It allows you to talk about the places in the world where grinding enough wheat to produce the daily loaf is the sole purpose of the day. It can help teach your child about how the world works and provide them with knowledge that will help them see the world through informed and compassionate eyes.
Last but by no means least, there is the sheer pleasure of sitting down with a slice or two of warm bread smothered in butter and jelly and allowing yourself a moment to relax and enjoy food that you have made from scratch and know is good for you.