Thursday, January 14, 2010

Makin' It From Scratch # 1 - Bread

Oatmeal Bread (Recipe Below)

Since I had so many links and recipes for a bunch of homemade things, I decided to not overwhelm people and to just feature one thing at a time. I decided to start with bread because it is a recent commitment of mine to stop buying bread. I just made a loaf yesterday and it's yummy which makes me feel confident that I can do this! I'm making my own bread for several reasons:

1. To save money
2. We have some huge buckets of wheat to grind for flour
3. I want to know exactly what's going into the bread my family and I eat
4. We don't eat a ton of bread, so it's feasible to make one loaf every few days.

This is a big goal for me because good bread has eluded me for many years until I found out a few key things:

- Kneading for 10 minutes or more really is important.
- Even if your loaf is golden brown, "sounds" hollow, and has sat in the oven for the allotted time, it doesn't mean that it's done! The most reliable gauge: taking the bread's temperature. 190ºF means your bread is really done. Remember that number. 190.
- Your recipe is everything.

If I can bake good bread, so can you! And it might take awhile to get used to homemade bread (how weird does that sound?), but I am totally excited! Okay, enough chatting, let's get down to the recipes.

100% Whole Wheat Bread
(From my good friend Clair's blog. The best homemade whole wheat bread I have seriously ever had in my life.)

For 1 loaf:

(This recipe was originally for 3 loaves. If you'd like that version, just leave a comment and let me know.)

1 & 2/3 cups warm water
1 Tbsp + 1tsp oil
1 Tbsp + 1tsp dough conditioner
2 Tbsp + 2tsp gluten
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
2 cups whole wheat flour (fresh ground is best)
2 tsp yeast

2 cups whole wheat flour

Stir all the ingredients together, except for the second 2 cups of flour. Add enough of the last 2 cups of flour to make a kneadable dough. (I found I only needed about 3 1/2 cups of flour total.) Knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you don't have a Kitchen Aid or Bosch mixer, using a bread machine to do the kneading works nicely (but take it out of the bread machine to rise and bake in the oven), but you can do it by hand too which is what I do.

Grease a bread pan well. Shape the dough into a loaf and put it into the pan. Allow to rise, covered, in a warm, draft free place until it has doubled in size - and believe me it will - about 30-45 minutes. Only do one (1) rise. This is important!! If you let the dough rise more than once or for too long it can affect the taste of the bread in a negative way. (How cool is that? Bread that only needs to rise once!)

If desired, brush the top of the loaf with some melted butter.
Be careful not to bump the pan when you put it in the oven or the dough might fall. Bake at 350ºF for about 30-40 minutes.

The bread is done when the internal temperature comes to 190ºF. If you're worried about the crust getting too brown, cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes of baking. Allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing - unless you seriously can't wait because the smell is too tantalizing. At least allow it to cool for 15 minutes.

Yield: 1 loaf

Oatmeal Bread*
(As seen in photo above)

3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. brown sugar OR honey
2 tsp. instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast**
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk

**If you use active dry yeast, dissolve it in the warm milk before combining with the remaining ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) till it's smooth. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it'll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface, and shape it into a log. Place the log in a lightly greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, cover the pan (with lightly greased plastic wrap), and allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it's crested 1 to 2 inches over the rim of the pan.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350ºF oven for 35-40 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190ºF. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking.

Yield: 1 loaf.

*King Arthur Flour recipe

And here I'll insert a little rant about whole wheat flour you buy at the store. Not all whole wheat flour is created equal! Cheap "whole wheat flour" = bleached white flour + wheat bran added later. More expensive whole wheat flour like King Arthur, etc. = whole wheat kernels ground into whole wheat flour. It really does make a difference, folks. The best way to tell is in the texture. Whole wheat flour, to me, feels like fine, grainy sand is mixed in with the flour.

Here are a couple links for other breads that I like:
- Plain Loaf (Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day) The recipe is in the article, which I would recommend reading. Making this bread is great fun!
- Raisin' Bread (Cold Antler Farm) I've made Jenna's white bread recipe out of her book and it was really good. If you want the plain white bread from this recipe, just omit the cinnamon, sugar & raisins. Makes 2 loaves.
- Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread (King Arthur Flour - where I learned about internal bread temperature - GENIUS!!) (Note: This bread stays really moist! And it is a lot different than the one I posted above.)

Good luck! I'll have another feature coming soon!

1 comment:

clair said...

MMMMM! I really like how your Oatmeal bread looks.

That's good to know about the 190 temperature. The last loaf of bread we made was not done all the way, I thought was because we were using a new type of grain called Triticale ( a high protein man-made grain produced by crossbreeding wheat and rye). Next time I'll make sure to check the temperature.

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