The flour shortages that plagued us in the early months of the pandemic are probably over where you live, but it’s worth hitting up local bakeries, pizza shops, or other bread-baking restaurants for their favorite flours. Many will sell you smaller quantities from their own supply. If you have your own mill (or a friend with one), local homebrew supply shops are an awesome source for different unmilled grains. They sell malted wheat, barley, and many other grains, as long as you can break them up into flour at home. Homebrew shops have mills, but theirs are designed to crack the grain, not pulverize it into flour.
You can also grab yeast at local bakeries, pizzerias, and homebrew supply stores (and even local breweries) if you want to get outside the traditional dry yeasts at the grocery store. Be aware: There is a difference between quick-rise bread yeasts and sourdough; the two types of yeast can make similar bread styles, but they have different characteristics and flavors. The general consensus among those I spoke to (and my personal opinion) is that sourdough can be tastier overall, but it’s more work to make. Many folks have sourdough starters around right now. A quick Facebook post or Instagram story may nab you some responses (and fresh yeast to bake with).
If you don’t want to venture out to buy yeast, or you can’t find any, it’s very easy to make a sourdough starter. If you have a couple of days, here’s my favorite sourdough guide.
Step 3: Time to Bake!
Now that you’ve got the ingredients and tools, find a great recipe and get to baking.
The foody geniuses over at Bon Appétit put together this excellent list of bread recipes to get you started. From dinner rolls to whole wheat chapatis, there are tons of great options to pair with nearly any kind of food. Pick a recipe and go to town. Or you may have family recipes collecting dust. Now’s a great time to get in touch with older members of your family and ask for them.
Baking is a fun activity to do with kids. In a conversation with WIRED, Stephen Jones, who leads Washington State University’s Bread Lab, recommended a children’s book also called Bread Lab. It’s a great way to get your kids interested in the science of baking.