Someone once said:
If girls were taught how to cook, especially how to make good bread, their education would be of far greater value.
(Boys can benefit too!)
Now, how about a recipe using delicious grainy goodness?
I’ve had a lot of issues making bread. Most people have. But because I usually can’t bring myself to shell out $4 or more for a loaf of bread that’s actually reasonably healthy, I’ve made it myself. With endless issues. It sank. Or it was gooey. Or it felt like I should sell it to the third little pig for his house. You name it, it’s happened to me. I tried all the recipes friends and family would throw at me and checked out book after book from the library, and while I’d occasionally get a freak good result, the frustration and failure was monumental. I gave up for a long time and my husband took over the breadmaking for several months.
UNTIL I BEGAN USING THIS RECIPE, and I have never had a failed loaf of bread since (even though I continued on to modify it slightly, because that’s how I roll).
The measurements in black text make 1 loaf. The numbers in red are a double recipe for 2 loaves. I recommend making just one loaf for starters.
1.5 (3) c warm water (if you’re going by a thermometer, 105-115 degrees; I just stick my finger in it)
1.5 (3) Tbsp sweetener of choice – agave, honey, or sugar
1.5 (3) Tbsp yeast
1/4 c (3/4c) ground flaxseed (optional)
1.5 (3) Tbsp olive oil
1.5 (3) tsp salt
1.5 (3) c white flour
3-4.5 (6-9) c whole wheat flour
Place warm water in a large bowl. Add yeast and sweetener and whisk to dissolve yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until you see the yeast bubbling and frothing rabidly on top of the water. (This is called proofing the yeast, to make sure it’s alive and functional.)
Here is my yeast with three blops of brown sugar.
Now I've added the 3 cups of warm water and whisked it up.
Add flaxseed, oil, and salt. Add the white flour and stir 1-2 minutes. This will help develop the gluten to make a light loaf of bread.
Adding in my ground flaxseed, oil (corn oil in this case), and salt.
Add remaining whole wheat flour about a cup at a time until you can handle the dough without it sticking to your hands. [I don't really count the cups I put in; I just add until it feels right, because it seems to vary depending on weather and temperature and other factors.]
Knead the dough in the bowl or on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes. Add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to your hands. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean, damp towel, and let rise in a warm place approximately an hour until doubled. [Just keep an eye on it, because I find it often will double long before an hour hits, and you want to not let the yeast die out. 30-45 minutes is usually what I do.]
Stirring in my flour
It's all kneaded and ready to rise. (Yes, the picture is blurry. I have lousy lighting conditions in my current place of abode.)
Punch down the risen dough and knead a little to work out air bubbles. Shape into a loaf (or two loaves) (or divide dough into 12-16 equal blobs and shape into buns!) and place in oiled bread pan (or cookie sheets for buns). Cover with towel again and let rise 30 minutes approximately, until nearly doubled. Preheat the oven to 350 during this time. [It will continue to rise the first minute or so in the hot oven, sometimes quite dramatically!]
After rising for a while, it's ready to punch down and shape into loaves!
Here I've cut the blob of dough in two equal parts.
You can squish the bubbles out by hand if you like; I usually roll it out and then roll it up tightly.
In the loaf pans ready to rise the second time.
Ready to go into the oven to bake!
Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped on the bottom. [After about 30 minutes, I take the loaf out of the pan and just put it right on the oven rack for another 10 minutes or so. This gets a good crust on the bottom and seems to help keep the bread from being soggy.] (Buns usually go 20-25 minutes, and you can just turn them upside down on the cookie sheets to crisp up the bottom.) Cool on a cooling rack.
Out of the oven, cooling on a cooling rack!
I also let the bread sit out at least overnight before putting it away. 24 hours would be ideal. It really cures it nicely.
In my next post, I’ll share some substitutionary ideas you can try out once you’ve mastered the plain template above!