Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Art of Breadmaking

This morning I was able to do something that I've sorely missed - bake a homemade loaf of bread. Its a wonderful art that makes me feel like a true homemaker. Nothing makes me want to care for my own home more than kneading a slab of warm bread dough and baking it into something special.

Bread making can be difficult at first, but once you learn the little details it becomes much easier. If you're really interested in making a good loaf, I highly suggest this website. Not only does it have a fabulous white bread recipe (its the one I use), it also goes through all the little details that come along with baking bread. For example, you learn about how eggs and salt affect one another in the mixing process and the order you should add ingredients to make sure that none of them incorrectly react with another ingredient.

Here's the bread I made this morning, its a great, super-easy recipe and the bread is delicious.

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread:
  • 2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tlb water
  • 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
Mixing: 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 floured surface, flour your hands and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. This kneading process is very important, sometimes 10 minutes seems like a LONG time to knead, but it will be worth it. I tried to skimp and knead for only 5 minutes or so but the bread just doesn't turn out correctly. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with a damp cloth. I found a great way to get a good rise. Put the bowl of dough in the oven with the oven turned off. Fill a baking pan with boiling water and place in the oven with your bread. Close the oven door quickly so the steam doesn't come out. This will create a little warm, damp oasis, a perfect place for your dough to rise. The directions say to let your bread rise for an hour, but you need to let it rise till its double in bulk, sometimes that can take about an hour and a half.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 - inch loaf pan, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and allow bread to rise for about 30-60 minutes in an oasis oven (with boiled water in baking pan), it should rise 1 to 1 1/2 inches above the pan. Don't let it over rise. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, tenting lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes. Test it for doneness by tapping the top of the loaf lightly, it should sound hollow. Remove from oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Don't let it sit too long in the pan or it will be difficult to get it out. Remove from pan and cool it on a rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
I'll post a picture of the bread I'm making now, if it turns out. ;-) I do love to make bread and have made some good loaves, but I still do mess up and my poor family has to eat a brick loaf.
I hope this recipe works for you!
Here' s a quick little article I found from the Ladies Against Feminism website.

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