Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bread!

I've been making our bread for almost two years! I still can't believe it's been that long. Anyway, I've learned a lot about making bread in the past two years, please benefit from my experience.

First and foremost, there is no such thing as good, homemade, entirely whole wheat bread. It can't be done. I don't care what you say about hard white wheat versus hard red wheat, etc. etc. It can't be done. It can't I say! I've tried damn near everything I can think of (and then some) and every single time it ceases to rise and I am left with a bread brick.

That being said, all white bread is not good for you, and as my good friend Ingrid points out, it's disgusting when it sticks to the roof of your mouth...like superglue. Indeed. So, here's how I make bread, works like a charm every time:

Dissolve 1 Tablespoon of yeast in a quarter cup of hot water. I used to use a candy thermometer to test the water, until I realized it's not life and death, just feel the water with your hand, it should be warm enough to dissolve the yeast but not so hot that it'll kill it. I've never had yeast die on me so don't fret.

When the yeast is dissolved add two cups of lukewarm water or milk. I usually use water, unless I'm feeling fancy, it's so hard to get the milk temp just right. And by "so hard" I mean, It requires an extra dish...and dishes have to be washed (sometimes BY HAND! can you believe such cruelties exist? I've been washing every.single.dish by hand all week, it takes forever. The new dishwasher was installed today! HOLLA! It is a thing of beauty, but I digress.)

Add two tablespoons sugar or agave, or honey or molasses or whatever sweetener/yeast food you desire. Add two teaspoons salt, to keep the yeast in check.

Add 1 cup wheat bran, 1 cup flax seed meal, and 1 cup white flour, stir until it's smoothish. Add 1 more cup white flour and stir it for five minutes or so until it becomes stretchy and the gluten begins to develop. Contrary to what many believe yeast is not entirely responsible for the bread rising A LOT depends on the gluten in the bread, stirring at this point and kneading later develop the gluten and will give you a loftier, prettier loaf.

Add another cup white flour (or wheat flour if you want) and dump the contents of the bowl out onto a floured surface, knead in the remaining 1-2 cups flour, it's not exact just knead flour in until it's not so sticky, if you fear the dough is getting too stiff with flour but still is quite sticky then stop adding flour and use a little oil on your hands to knead the dough. This works brilliantly. Some people suggest that 20 minutes of kneading time is ideal, others say it's impossible to over-knead bread and that the longer you knead the better. Just knead the dough until it's smooth, if you have time (and desire) beyond that to keep kneading, go for it, otherwise move on.

Grease the mixing bowl (or don't. The world won't end if you don't) and put the dough back in to rise, cover the bowl with a wet cloth. The wet cloth is somewhat important because sometimes dough can form a thin crust type surface that inhibits the rising. After it's doubled in size (like a half hour to an hour) divide the dough in half and form it into log shapes, let it rise for another hour or so in greased loaf pans, when they're almost bread loaf size bake them, they'll rise a little more as they bake. Bake at 375 for 30ish minutes. They're done when you tap on the top and it sounds hollow. Enjoy!

3 comments:

NIKOL said...

I really should start making bread. The thing that holds me back, I find, are two main fears. First, that I'll go through all that work and the bread will turn out yucky so I'll have wasted my time. Or Second, that the bread will turn out yummy but we won't really eat it (meaning it will go to waste...which, again, means I sort of wasted my time). We don't go through bread very fast in our household, and homemade doesn't last as long since it's not full of chemical preservatives. But maybe I'd eat more bread if I had the good stuff on hand? I just don't know.

Hope we can catch up a bit at book club. I'm sorry we didn't get to talk more at church yesterday. I miss you!

K. M. Steddum said...

I love making whole wheat bread, and it rises fine. I have my recipe on my blog. I also make pizza and foccacia with the same recipe, only I let it rise once for only 15 minutes. The flour does matter whoole wheat is fine, but not WW Graham flour. I make my muffins and cookies with ww too. Yum!
www.frogandwillow.blogspot.com

K. M. Steddum said...

I make wonderful ww bread. The recipe is on my blog. I also use the same recipe for foccacia and pizza dough, but raise only once for 15 minutes. Just don't use ww graham flour, no good. I also use ww for cookies and muffins.
www.frogandwillow.blogspot.com