Monday, August 13, 2012

Everyday Wheat Bread

Bread is one of those things we take for granted, especially if you’re a big toast or sandwich eater.  But have you noticed lately that a lot of the bread is costing up to $5 per loaf?  That is a LOT of money for something that really isn’t that hard to make.

You’ll need about 3 hours really for this.  Most of that time is sitting around and waiting, the actual time you’ve got your hands on it is about 20-30 minutes.  I’m doing this by hand, not using any machinery that you may not have.  I have cut the recipe in half and just made one loaf, and it works just fine.

So you’ll need 2 loaf pans, measuring cups, microwave, a sturdy spoon, a nice big bowl, and the ingredients listed below.

2 cups of water
¼ cup of melted butter
¼ honey
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 envelopes active dry yeast
4 to 4 ½ cups whole wheat flour

(the following are optional)
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup wheat germ


Put the water, butter, and honey in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds on high.  You want it warm but not steaming.  If you can put your finger in it comfortably and it feels warm, you’re good.  If it is uncomfortable, let it cool off for 2 minutes before proceeding.

In a large bowl, mix the warm liquid, all-purpose flour, salt and yeast with a whisk until there are no lumps, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the seeds and wheat germ if you’re using them.  Now add the wheat flour one cup at a time until you’ve got all 4 cups in.  If it’s not really sticky, you’re ready to move forward, otherwise add a tablespoon or two more of wheat flour.  Use the remaining wheat flour to dust a large cutting board so you can knead the dough.  Wipe out the bowl after you put the dough on the floured board, and then grease the bowl with soft butter.

If you’ve never done any bread dough kneading, what you need to do is push the big lump a little flattish and then fold it over towards you and push it away from you with the heel of your hand.  Do this for about 5 minutes, rotating the dough so it turns into a smoother shape.  By the time the dough is ready, it will be smooth and elastic – trust yourself, you’ll recognize it when it happens.  Put the dough into the greased bowl, and turn it over so it’s got a greasy side facing up.  Cover with a cloth and let it rest in a warm place for an hour.  Wash your hands, clean things up and go relax.

At the end of the hour, grease 2 loaf pans with soft butter.  Punch the dough down (put your fist in it, you don’t have to use the same force you’d punch your ex with).  This will release some of the air.  Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, shape into vaguely loaf-like shapes and put in the greased loaf pans.  Cover and let rise another hour, wash your hands and clean the bowl out, and get back to your relaxing.

Preheat the oven to 350, and when it’s ready uncover the loaf pans and put the pans in the oven.  Set your timer for 35 minutes, and come back to look at it when the timer goes off.  Because it’s wheat bread, it may be hard to tell when the loaves have achieved a “golden” state.  Open the oven and pull the rack out so you can tap the top of the loaf.  If it feels sort of hollow when you tap them, they’re ready.  If not ready, check again after 5 minutes, keep doing that until you feel they are ready.  Take them out, close the oven, turn it off, and turn the loaves out to cool. 

I know, I know, you’re tempted to cut into it immediately.  Don’t do that, give it at least 10-15 minutes before you cut it, it’s still coming down from 350 degrees and finishing the last of the baking inside and firming up its structure.  Because this bread is more dense, it’s not as full of fillers as what you buy and less likely to have the same spongy texture as store-bought bread.  You’ll have to slice it thinner as a result, but hey if it turned out right then it’s going to be crazy good and that just means you get more of it, right?  Try the end piece with just some soft butter spread on it to see how it is.  You'll notice that less of it fills you up more than store-bought bread does.

And there you have it – homemade bread good for sandwiches and toast.  I may throw some oats into it next time for even more fiber and texture, but even if you don’t add any of the extras I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

If everything went right and you’re feeling great about your bread making experience, you may also want to try this recipe - Honey Oatmeal Bread

1 comment:

  1. Wondering what you are up to and SO glad I remembered you sent me to your blog once upon a time. Send me an email or something! -Mari