The Village Bakery
Review by Debbie Mazo
Baking bread is an ancient tradition filled with pleasant associations. Warm muffins, crusty loaves, spicy quick breads all trigger warm feelings of nurturing and comfort. In modern times, with bread machines and instant yeast, breadmaking can be mastered by anyone.
For everything you need to know about baking bread and milling your own grain, the Village Bakery is a tempting site. Part of the Country Life and Simplicity Village group of sites, the Village Bakery is run by a couple of software developers striving to lead the simple life, in harmony with nature and the environment. Don't be fooled by the bare bones look of this site; it has valuable information for all bread enthusiasts who are looking for the perfect rise in their dough.
To make good bread, you need to understand its most important ingredient—flour. In the Grain Bin, you can explore the role of germ, bran, endosperm, and hull in the human diet. If you're new to breadmakng, the Beginner's Guide can lead you through a basic recipe. Once you master the basic skills, you can discover the Tricks and Tips (currently under construction) that make breadmaking an art form. If your dough refuses to rise, check out the Bread Questions Center. Although this link is currently being revamped, you can still search through a bread archive with over 1000 postings discussing recipes, bread machines, and general troubleshooting tips.
In the Bread Community Forum, you can chat about breadmaking with other bread connoisseurs, whether you use a machine or your bare hands. Help on using the forum is available for forum novices. For some inspiration, try the Recipe Bin where you can find a unique collection of bread offerings. To really take advantage of this collection, first check out the leftovers in your fridge. No doubt you'll find a recipe, like beer bacon bread or sour cream potato bread, that incorporates your standby ingredients. For sourdough fans, Intro to Sourdough includes a great San Francisco recipe that will let you experience the tangy flavor and appealing crust of bread baked from a sourdough starter. More savvy bakers of sourdough bread can check out the Sourdough Proof Box. With all the this information at your fingertips, you'll easily banish your fear of failure, whether preparing an easy banana bread or complicated brioche.
Debbie Mazo is a writer and editor based in Vancouver, Canada. She currently specializes in technical and marketing materials, but is also pursuing opportunities in food journalism.