Saturday, June 18, 2011


As I was lying awake in bead this morning, I was ruminating on the amazing qualities of bread. It is, perhaps, one of the oldest forms of sustenance, and it certainly is a symbol of food in general. Something else that amazed me was the incredible variety of foods that use bread or bread variations (bread crumbs for example.) I am therefore planning on making a series of bread posts, exploring some of the many different options one has when presented with a simple loaf of bread.

For starters, I'd like to share my favorite whole wheat bread recipe (thanks to Better Homes and Gardens). I know there are hundreds, probably thousands of simple bread recipes, many of which are probably better or simpler, but I have been really happy with this one. One of its best features is that it's easy to remember. I think one of my favorite toppings for fresh bread is Alaskan current jam (shown in the picture and made by yours truly.) Another favorite is butter with cinnamon sugar. mmmmm. yum.

I'll write down what I usually make--if you want the original recipe, you can always just look in the cookbook:

Whole Wheat Bread:
2 cups all purpose flour
2-3 tbs yeast
1 3/4 cups water (maybe 2 cups--try milk for a slightly creamier variation)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbs butter (or substitute, ie apple butter, margarine, shortening)
1 1/4 tsp salt
3-3.5 cups whole wheat flour

1. In a bowl, coming 2 cups of the all purpose flour and the yeast.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir the water, brown sugar, butter, and salt until combine and just warm. I usually test this by holding my finger in it for a little bit. If it feels hot, then let it cool a little before you put it in the yeast/flour bowl. When it's the right temp (around 120F) mix with a beater into the flour for about 3 minutes, or until the yeast seems activated.

3. Mix as much of the whole wheat flour as you can. I find that I have no problem with two cups, and with the third it usually starts looking doughy. When it's too stiff for the beaters to work it, turn it onto a floured surface.

4. Knead the dough, working in extra flour as you need to. (6-8 minutes) Place in a lightly greased bowl and let rise in a warm place--which, here in DC is pretty much stinkin' everywhere. (maybe about an hour or two for the first rise)

5.Set oven to 375F. Punch down and divide into two (or for rolls, divide evenly and put on a buttered cookie sheet). Shape loaves and place in buttered bread pans and let them rise again another 30-45 min.

6. Bake the loaves for 30-40 min or until the bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Some ovens might be hotter on top--in which case you could cover the top with tin foil for the last 10 min or so to make sure it doesn't get burned or too dark. Other ovens (like mine) gets really hot on the bottom. So to prevent the bottom from burning, I put a small cookie sheet underneath the pans, and it works like a charm.

As soon as the loaves are done, take them out of the pans and let them cool. (Or just start eating!)

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