Sunday, February 19, 2012

Whole wheat bread

Did you know that kneading bread is actually somewhat comforting? And a good way to relieve some frustration. Seriously. Get mad about something, and then go knead some dough. You'll feel better, and then you will almost have some delicious home-made bread.

But first you have to do some other things. Like, heat up some milk, let some yeast sit in water, wait for the milk to cool, add a few ingredients together, mix a little bit. And then....clean your counters off so you have space to knead the dough (ugh). It sure is worth it though. Even just the smell of bread baking in the oven is delightful. And that smell makes everyhthing feel cozy, and like you're back at your parents' house when they made bread every week or two. Ahhh the good ol' days when I didn't have to fend for myself.

When I told someone that I made bread, they said something along the lines of "Oh, you have a breadmaker?" Uh. No. I made those loaves by hand, friends. Breadmakers? I scoff at you.

Alright, so maybe breadmakers are easier? I don't really know, but that's now how I was taught to make bread. Plus, if you use a breadmaker, then you can't relieve that frustration. So, that's another reason breadmakers are out of the question.

I asked the bread-man (AKA, my dad), if he could help me with the recipe, since the only one I had made, I don't know, 25 loaves or something insane like that. He promptly sent me a recipe that I could use to make two loaves of bread, making them partially whole wheat. Hooray!

Note: Baking bread is NOT fast. You can't spend an hour working on this, and come out with delicious bread. It takes time. You have to wait for the bread to rise. Then you have to wait for it to rise again. That right there is 2-4 hours. And don't forget the prepping before the rising, and the baking after the rising. Plan to do this on a day when you have a few hours to spare.

One of the greatest things about baking bread at home is that you will likely have all of the ingredients in your house already. This means you don't have to spend insane amount on loaves of bread at the grocery store. A definite positive in my opinion.

Another note: This may come in handy. When prepping for baking bread, or really, anything, it might be a good idea to put your ingredients together in separate little bowls, so that you do'nt forget anything. You know, like they do on the cooking shows on the Food Network? I wish I had that channel. But if I think about it, it's probably a good thing I don't, because then I wouldn't do anything except for watch all the awesome shows on it...anyway...I digress. Put each ingredient in a little bowl, and then go back and check your recipe, making sure you have everything. That way, you are less likely to forget an ingredient, especially an important one. Like brown sugar. I don't do this, but maybe I should start. The only con is that afterwards, there are more dishes to do. Blech.

Whole wheat bread

1 tsp sugar                                           
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast                                   
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp margarine, softened
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk, scalded and cooled  (dissolve the sugar, salt and margarine in the milk while it’s hot and let it cool)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups, approximately, white flour
First three items together to dissolve the yeast. I also added in the milk, margarine, sugar and salt at the same time, once it was cooled enough to room temperature, so as to not kill the yeast!

Add in the whole wheat flour and beat on medium till smooth. 
If you'd like, you can add an egg into this mix, as it will give more nutrients and body. Not necessary, and if you don't, your bread will just be lighter and fluffier. I added one. :)

Add the rest of the flour and when pulls away from the sides, put on counter and knead.
Add more flour as needed to make dough only slightly sticky. If you have ever made buns before, the bread dough should be less sticky than that. Let it rise for 1-2 hours.
Once the dough has risen the first time, punch it down, cut it in half, pinching the bottoms, and placing each half into a greased loaf pan. Once it is in there, poke 3 sets of holes into the top with a fork.
Let the bread rise again, another 1-2 hours. I turned my oven on for about 15 seconds, just to let it warm up. Turned it off, and then put the bread in, covered with a plastic bag. 
Once the dough is done rising in the loaf pans, stick it in a preheated oven set to 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
I can't make my loaves the same size either. I see at trend...

You will know they are done when you take the loaves out of the pans, and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, you're set. Let it cool, or not. And have a slice.


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