Friday, July 23, 2010

Bread, bread, fabulous bread.

A little over a year ago, I decided that I was going to try to go at least a year without buying a loaf of bread. Having never made bread before in my life (save for a failed bread maker attempt), I suppose that was a pretty hefty goal. I am, however, happy to say that with maybe one or two necessary exceptions, it's been more than a year without a store-bought loaf.

I left the bread machine in storage, and decided to give my beloved Kitchen Aid a go. That thing is a wonder. I have mild carpal tunnel and was not about to become an expert at kneading, but it's mostly unnecessary with a Kitchen Aid and a bread hook.

I have two favorite recipes, one which I've posted about before, and then another, heartier and healthier recipe. The bread I posted about last time is more of a white bread, and I'm going to share that recipe with you again. After sending my Kitchen Aid to the shop for nearly $100 worth of repairs, I decided it was necessary to cut the previous recipe in half. I have also learned a couple other tricks and techniques, and since I don't have the whole recipe that I like to use in one place, I will after making this post.

Fabulous Homemade Bread

1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon and 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/8 cup bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups warm water
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4-5 cups bread flour

1. In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, stir together 1/4 cups warm water, 1 3/4 teaspoons sugar, 1/8 cup bread flour, and yeast. Let grow for about 5 minutes. It will bubble almost immediately.

2. Measure oats, 2 1/4 cups warm water, whole wheat flour, salt, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup oil into the mixing bowl and mix on low speed with a dough hook for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add 4 cups of bread flour and continue mixing on low speed. Slowly add the remaining cup of flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Humidity determines how much flour you need before the bread pulls away (if it is particularly humid, you may need to add more). It is normal for the dough to be sticky.

3. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover with saran wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Divide the dough into 3 even pieces. Shape loaves,* and place into 8x4 inch pans. Let rise until dough is 1 inch above rims of pan, usually 1 hour.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes, or until tops are browned. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.

*I was a newbie at shaping loaves, so here's a quick photo tutorial, if you're interested:

I have found the best way to evenly divide the loaves is to shape the bread into a large log and then cut into thirds, like so:

Pound each loaf into a rectangular shape:

And then roll into roughly a 9x12 inch rectangle:

Fold the dough over 3 times:

You can see with that last piece I took my hands on both sides and pressed the dough down, then fold that dough underneath. The bottom of your loaf should look like this:

1 comment:

  1. OOOOooooo! This looks easy-peasy! And so good! Thanks for the pictures, that helps!