Last year I started baking my own bread. I'd had a couple of books on the subject, but never made good use of them because I assumed that homemade bread was rather tricky and time-consuming. After I made a couple of loaves, my mind changed on the matter. I just wanted to make more and more. It's key not to get discouraged after the first couple of loaves you bake. Like any other craft, trial and error lead to improved results. Rising times, folding, knowledge of your oven (all ovens cook differently) are all things you'll have to learn and practice.
Most of the breads I make are yeast-based, but I also like the Irish classic: soda bread. Soda breads are easier to make and can be prepared in less time - an hour if you're in full throttle. If you've never made bread, soda bread is a good starting point; and if you are really interested in baking your own bread, the most useful bread book I have is Bread.
Instead of buttermilk you can sour some milk by combining the milk (1 1/2 cups) with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and letting it stand for 5-10 minutes.
This recipe makes 1 medium loaf. Use stone ground wheat flour if possible.
• 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour • 3/4 cup all-purpose white flour • 2 teaspoons baking soda • 1 teaspoon salt • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Mix together both types of flour, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir everything until smooth. I use my hands but you can use a wooden spoon. If the dough is too dry, add some buttermilk. Make a flat round disk of about 1" thick and put on a floured baking sheet. Cut a "X" in the middle. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let it cool on a rack.