One of my dearest friends, the first time we hung out, suggested making a few loaves of honey whole-wheat bread. Most people probably wouldn't consider that the start of a lifelong relationship, but I did.
I hadn't made a real bread since home ec class in junior high, but as soon as that warm, comforting aroma hit my nose, I swore I'd get back into it.
The transformation of yeasted bread is amazing. The process seems so basic, but it's still dramatic no matter how many times you witness it, from lumpy mass to golden, soaring loaf:
I've pretty much kept to my vow, and even if my kitchen isn't always stocked with fresh bread, the freezer is. And I still make honey whole-wheat a lot, but my new favorite is this Scottish oatmeal bread from Serious Eats. The recipe is excerpted from Nancy Baggett's Kneadlessly Simple, a book I now desperately need based on how well this one turned out: subtly spiced, with a bright trace of orange zest, and a lingering, nutty taste from the oats.
I may be falling in love with currants, too, which stud this loaf with bursts of tangy sweetness. They're like the thinking man's raisin.
Try a slice while the bread is still warm, with butter, or if you have any left the next day, toasted with ricotta and honey. Make a pot of English Breakfast tea- a strong black-tea blend- to drink alongside, and you'll wonder why it's taken you so long to make your own bread, you loafer.
(And happy birthday, Dad. I'd make a loaf just for you, but since you're the only person whose "will not eat" list is longer than mine, I think everything but the flour would be refused. Don't worry, I have another kitchen treat in mind.)