Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Classic Whole Wheat Bread

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There are few smells that are as comforting as rising and baking bread. The whole apartment smells scrumptious for hours. It makes me want to eat the walls. Baking bread has become a lost art. When my friends found out that I have baked (and regularly bake) bread from scratch (without a bread maker!), they all thought I was a magician. I'm not. It's ridiculously easy. And cheap. And tastes out-of-this-world. PB&J will never be the same.

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread
from King Arthur Flour
makes one loaf
  • 1 - 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 1/2 cups 100% Whole Wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast (or 1 yeast packet)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

*The amount of water needed depends on your climate/humidity. Since it is winter, most climates will be drier and will probably need the full amount of water. 

Combine all dry ingredients a medium bowl. 

Transfer to a food processor (or stand mixer with paddle attachment, if you're lucky!). Slowly add liquids through drain, with processor or mixer running. 

If your dough is wet (or dry), add flour (or water) in small increments until dough is soft and slightly wet but still easily manageable. If you have a stand mixer, switch to your dough hook and let the mixer do the work for about 7 minutes. If not, pulse the food processor until dough forms a ball around the blade. 

On a LIGHTLY floured surface (like a Tb. tops), knead dough with greased hands for about 5 minutes. 

When dough is smooth, form into a ball. Place in a large, greased bowl, turning ball to coat with oil. 

Let rise 1-2 hours, until puffy (not necessarily doubled in bulk), depending on the warmth of your kitchen. We have a cold apartment. So, I always preheat the oven to 250 or so and let the bowl sit on top of the oven.

Lightly press down dough and form into an 8" log. Place log into a greased bread pan. Let rise 1-2 hours, or until dough has risen about 1" above the rim. 

Preheat oven to 350°rees;F. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Tent with foil about halfway through the baking to prevent over-browning. 

Viola! Freshly baked bread! Let cool about 5 minutes before turning it on to a cooling rack. Be sure to slice off a piece and spread just a bit of butter. Then, sprinkle a teeny tiny bit of kosher salt. Heaven. Seriously. Fresh baked bread ranks up there with fresh baked cookies. 

Nutritional Information (for 1 slice, 1/16): 150 calories, 3.7g fat (0.3g sat), 26g carbs, 1g fiber, 3.4g protein

These are thicker slices than normal bread (about 1/2 an inch). I'm sure if you have better knives/better cutting skills, you could get about 18 slices out of this loaf. But I like thick slices :) While it does take a while to make, with all of the rises, most of the time is hands-off. You can start the dough and do something else for the hours it takes to rise. I always do the full rising time too because it makes it lighter. 

I started baking bread last week because I was bored during the snow storm. Then, I remembered how easy it was. And what a treat it was to have fresh baked bread. So, I'm trying to bake a loaf each week for my sandwich bread; it's cheaper and I know exactly what's in it. Plus, I get 2 slices of fresh baked heaven as a little present each Sunday.  :) I only wish it would last longer. About Wednesday, it starts to taste stale...which makes me wonder what's in the loaves (even the organic ones!) at the stores. Anyone know how to make it last longer without putting anything unsavory in it?

And with that, I'll leave you with some pictures of the kitties. Because it's been too long. And they are adorable.

Whatcha doin up there?


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