Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recipe Thursday: Wheat Bread

Remember that post about bread, where I am convinced that I killed the yeast? I thought I'd share the recipe with you! The recipe is from More With Less.

I do want to say that despite not really rising, the bread was still very yummy, with great flavor, and a nice texture. It was a little heavy, but not too much. I was actually a little surprised.

First, you mix 3 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of dry milk, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 packages of yeast together.

Second, you warm 3 cups of water (the recipe calls for potato water or water - I've only ever had/used plain old tap water), 1/2 cup of honey, and 2 tablespoons of oil. (Here's my first deviation, since I only had/have olive oil, I melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the pan before adding the water and honey. It has been fine so far!)

When the water mixture is warm (NOT HOT!!), add to the flour mixture, and ... mix. Recipe is written for using an electric mixer. I prefer not to use one. Recipe says to mix for 3 minutes. I just mix until it is fairly consistent, without huge lumps.

Now, you add 1 cup of whole wheat flour, mix. Add up to 4 and 1/2 cups of white flour. As most experienced bakers, and the recipe advise, you should reserve the last cup or so to be added during kneading. I generally add a cup at a time, and when it is very difficult to mix, flour my counter, and turn it out to be kneaded. Usually, I've added 3 cups of white flour.

Since I know that I will need to add flour, I usually liberally sprinkle flour on top of the dough, on my hands, and on my pastry knives/bowl scrapers, which I use to start the kneading process. Kneading really is a hands-on learning process. You want to work the dough until it will not accept more flour, but this is a tricky line, because you can overwork it. The best way I can describe kneading is that you take one side of the dough-ball, and fold it to the center, pushing with the heal of your hand. As you do this, you are rotating the dough about 90 degrees. You keep doing this, adding flour as necessary, until the dough isn't sticky anymore.

Grease a bowl, put the dough in it, and turn (to coat). Set aside in a warm, draft free area to rise. My mom always wet a cheese cloth with hot-as-you-can-stand-it water, wrung it out thoroughly, and loosely placed it over the bread. I do too.

After it had doubled in bulk (about an hour), punch down the dough, and turn back out onto the counter. Knead very lightly, and divide it so you can form loaves. Recipe says it will make 2; I have found that it can easily make 3 loaves.

Grease your loaf pans, place your formed loaves in said pans, and set aside to rise. Again with the warm towel/cheese cloth. Again with the double in bulk. Again, it will take about an hour.

Bake for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn out onto cooling rakes, and resist the urge to eat it all in one sitting. Properly stored, it should freeze just fine for at least a few weeks. I've not had it last that long though, usually gets eaten!

Do you make your own bread? Is there a recipe that you swear by?

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