Ever since I started cooking and baking, I’ve always had a list of things that I wanted to make. These items have mostly been things that I know would push my abilities and limits, like souffles, french macaroons, and the perfect Bearnaise sauce. But there are also a lot of things on my list just to say that I made it, which brings us to the topic of bread.
As weird and uninteresting as it is, I’ve always wanted to make a loaf of bread from scratch. I’m constantly making myself sandwiches, but I can’t help but look at all the preservatives listed under the ingredients. So I decided to make bread myself, and experience the process!
I originally thought that making bread would be quite time consuming task which I would need to attend to at every moment. It actually wasn’t! After mixing the ingredients and kneading the dough (Which I didn’t actually do…I should give credit to my handy dandy Kitchen Aid) I just left the dough to rise in a greased bowl. It was that simple. Man, was I in awe, and let me tell you how much I love the smell of yeast now. The way it perfumes the kitchen when mixed in with warm water, I can’t get enough. I started with three packets of yeast, and all three packets are now gone!
After letting it rise under a towel for a couple hours, I transferred it to my loaf dish where I let it rise again for another couple of hours. I like the idea of making bread of scratch because not only it is a bit healthy for you and not chalked full of preservatives, but you could easily made a loaf in the morning and have fresh bread by the afternoon! Doubling this recipe is quite simple too, so then you could have two or three loaves for the rest of the week.
The bread turned out really well in my opinion, and it was only my first time making it. Of course there could be improvements, but I think that’ll come with practice. I made a fantastic panini with this bread in my panini maker. There was some beautiful coloration and marking on the bread, but I didn’t find that when just toasting it in the toaster. That’s something else I’m going to look into the next time I make bread again. I have to say I’m pretty happy with my bread making skills and I’m glad I got another item crossed off my ever growing list.
Whole Wheat Bread
adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields:1 loaf / Prep Time: 15 – 20 minutes / Bake Time: 35 – 40 minutes
1 – 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
3 1/2 cups 100% Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
*Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.
1) In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.
2) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
3) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
4) Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.
5) Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
**This bread lasted for about one week, it can be frozen as well.