Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Just When I Was About to Give Up

I would just like to announce that this bread is freaking amazing. I am absolutely flabbergasted that the problem was simply that I needed a different brand of yeast (along with a few other minor adjustments). Oh my gosh, I just made another two loaves even though we still have a loaf and a half in the cupboard. The last two ended up starting their fourth and final rise as we needed to leave... I tried freezing one and baking one all willy-nilly. It was still better than some of my other attempts. I wanted to see if I could make perfection. I have a few more things I'd like to tinker with next time, but at least the flavor is spot on. This is from my book The Homesteader's Kitchen: Recipes from Farm to Table by Robin Burnside. I like it because its not just "Whole Wheat" brick loaf. Its got a lot more included so that its more nutritious and believe it or not, it is a really soft loaf.

Things I've learned while getting this far:
  • I have started preheating my oven to 400 and then turning off after a minute into the preheat process. Place the bowl of dough inside the oven and shut it in. Perfection. My house is old and drafty so it's too cold to leave out on the cupboard... and leaving the oven on leads to towels lighting on fire and 2-year-olds never forgetting the fact that Mom lit the oven on fire... WHEN WILL SHE FORGET?!
  • Using my Christmas present from my in-laws, a digital thermometer that has one of those oven-safe probes, I learned that it doesn't take my loaf an hour to cook... its more like 45 minutes. That explains the hard crusts I wasn't that keen on.
  • I will be using Red Star yeast; not Meijer and not Fleischmann. Bad luck? Coincidence? Maybe. At least I know what will work.
  • I tried "1.5-ing" the recipe to get two loaves that were a little bigger, but once I figured out I had bad yeast I realized the original recipe was sufficient. (and cleaning very happy to be rising over the bowl bread dough from the oven floor was not fun)

Honey Whole Grain Bread (makes 2 loaves)
*I'm going to omit most of her instruction. If you're really that curious, buy the book because its a really good one.

3 c lukewarm water
1/3 c honey
1 T dry baker's yeast or 1 package active-dry
6-8 c whole wheat or spelt flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/3 c rolled oats
1/4 c millet
1/4 c corn flour
1/4 c rye flour
2 T vital wheat gluten, optional
1/4 c vegetable oil, optional (I used olive oil)
1 T sea salt

1. Proof your yeast by combining water, honey and yeast and letting it sit for 5 minutes.

2. Add half the wheat flour (3 cups) by 1/2 cup increments and stir 100 times. Then add oats, millet, corn flour, rye flour, and gluten. Stir an additional 50 times. First rise: For each rise, cover with a damp towel and let it rise for an hour in a warm place.

3. Knead it for at least 10 minutes. The longer you knead it, the softer it will be. (and mine is soooooft after ten minutes of kneading.) Second Rise.

4. Punch it down and Third Rise.

5. Separate it into two loafs and roll them each into a log shape that will fit your pan. Fourth Rise.

6. Preheat the oven to 350. Make a few small slits in the top to let out steam and pop the bread in the oven to cook for about an hour. OR until the internal temp is 185.

It does take time. See previous post about patience. Not so much actual time to interact with it, but more along the lines of time at home to monitor the progress. So as long as you don't see yourself going anywhere for a good six hours (includes 4 hours of rising time, roughly an hour for baking, at least a half hour actually touching and making the dough, and a half hour to let it cool before storing it so that it doesn't get stale) you are golden. This is another one of those.

Things I want to figure out:
  • Where to buy BULK FLOUR that is similar in every way to what I am currently using. I have found that I really like King Arthur's White Whole Wheat flour, but my grocery store only carries the regular sized bags. I'm going to be going through a lot of flour.
  • How to cut attractive slits in the top of the loaves before they are popped into the oven to bake... without collapsing them in anyway. Its so anticlimactic.
I feel like I won the lottery. That mega-millions one that is up to $335 million or whatever the newspaper said. Yep. I'm pretty much awesome... tonight at least.


rightbrainedamoeba said...

congratulations! I made the most tasty loaves of Challah (Jewish braided egg bread) yesterday, and I was so excited! :) *i made a double batch, and forgot to add eggs and oil to one batch and got frustrated until i look on the other counter and there was my bowl of eggs/oil, waiting patiently to be added to my mess. it was saved ... It's amazing what the little blessings can to to your day, eh? :) I can shoot you the recipe if you want, or maybe I shall post it. I use Williams/sonoma (75 cents for the book somewhere thrifty once, no regrets. :D) haha, long comment. good job! :D

nancy said...

I'd love the recipe! :) and Thanks!