Tuesday, March 01, 2011

bread night

I noticed that we were low on bread yesterday so I decided to bake a loaf. I must tell you that this recipe and methodology is the simplest way to bake bread I have ever come across. I mean when somebody says that they baked bread the image comes to mind of an exhaustive day of kneading, rising and baking. I decided to bake a loaf at around 6:30 and it was out of the oven by 8:30. Most of this two hour time in preparing the bread was spent sitting on the couch watching The Nature of Things on boxee.

Now granted, this is not the artisan bread that we are accustomed to eating from places like Bon Ton Bakery, Dauphine Bakery & Bistro or even Avenue Homesteader's latest creation, but it is a nice tasting and healthful loaf of bread that is great for sandwiches and toast. It is easy to make because if I can do it...it is easy. 

1.5 cups of milk in a sauce pan heated to around 100 degrees. Add 2 tsp of yeast and 2 Tblsp of honey once it gets to temperature. Stir in the yeast and honey till well mixed and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients. It will begin to bubble and foam within 10-15 minutes.
In our Kitchen Aid mixer I place 4 cups of flour.
Get ready:
2 tsp of salt (don't add the salt to the flour just yet.)
1/4 cup of oil. We use organic olive oil but melted butter works too or whatever.

Now that the yeast mixture is working away there should be a layer of foam on top. Turn on the mixer with the bread hook attachment and add the milk/yeast/honey to the flour. Then add the oil. Once it has mixed a bit you can slowly add the salt.

I let the mixer knead the dough for around 10 minutes or so. While it is working I grease/flour a bread pan.
Once the dough is kneaded it will be very elastic feeling and slightly moist to the touch. Shape it to the bread pan and place the pan in a warm spot with a light kitchen towel over top. I flour the top of the loaf so it doesn't stick to the towel. We place the pan on the floor in front of the wood stove where it is nice a cozy. Last night I let it raise like that for about an hour. You can let it go as long as you like I suppose. Pop it in a 375 degree oven for 45 mins and the picture is what you should end up with.


  1. I like that bit about honey! I'll be trying this!

  2. I like that bit about honey! I'll be trying this out!

  3. Of course Patty! I forgot to link you to the honey...how stupid of me. It's done now though. Have a great day.

  4. That sounds great, but a few questions....we're down in California, and I can get my grains from a local farmer, I just have to grind them myself using my Kitchen Aid attachment. So far, using just the ground grain (in other recipes) yields a brick. Should I be sifting out some of the kernel-y bits or mixing with some plain white flour or (gasp!) buying flour at the store?

  5. There are many ways that bread can fail. Only one of those reasons is out of your control. You need to obtain high-protein wheat. Around 14% protein is ideal. The Falling Number is also important, but typically, if the protein is good so will the FN. Check with your farmer about these number. Even if the protein is down to 12%, you'll have bricks.

    The other reasons could be: recipe, bad yeast, not enough kneading or enough moisture?

    With whole grain flour I generally tell people to 1)use a little more yeast than normal, 2)get the yeast started in the milk/honey at 100F before incorporating and 3)really get a good knead going...perhaps as much as double the kneading time from processed flours.

    If you do that with good baking quality wheat you'll have good bread. Hope this helps! How's the weather in Cali?

  6. Hi John. are you using the park wheat for this recipe?

  7. Yes, but it works equally well with Red Fife. Kneading is the key. The dough should be quite stiff and very well kneaded.