Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Handmade Wheat Bread

One of things that I have wanted to do in my quest to be more "self reliant" is to make my own bread. It took a few years,but I finally did it!

What made me finally decide on making my own bread is unclear. I wanted to to try it for a long time. I think I was intimidated,pure and simple.

I don't have a bread maker,so I went online to find a handmade recipe. I don't want to invest in a bread maker if this is a flash in the pan idea. So I went with handmade. The recipe is found is on was submitted by Nita Crabb. It received 5 out of 5 stars. I hope I am not infringing on any copy laws here.

Simple Whole Wheat Bread
3 cups warm water ( 110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 ( .25 oz) pkgs active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups of white bread flour
3 tablespoons butter,melted
1/3 cup honey (yes,another one)
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter,melted

1.In a large bowl,mix warm water,yeast,and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes,or until big and bubbly.
2.Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter,1/3 cup honey,and salt.Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour.Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky-just pulling away from the counter but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2-4 cups of whole wheat flour.Place in a greased bowl,turning once to coat the surface of the dough.Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
3.Punch down,and divide into 3 loaves.Place in greased 9 x 5 loaf pans,and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
Bake at 350 degrees F/175 degrees C for 25-30 minutes, do not over bake. 4.Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons of melted butter when done to prevent crust from getting hard.Cool completely.

The first thing I had to figure out was step 1. It didn't say to cover the bowl,so I didn't. It didn't seem like much was happening,though the mix did appear to be getting larger,but bubbly? I covered it with a towel,and it did take longer than 30 minutes,maybe closer to 45 minutes. I was expecting big old bubbles like some scientific stew,but it wound up being pinholes-like when one makes pancakes. I assumed that was the bubbles,and went on to step 2.

Since I have never kneaded before,I had to refer to my Red and White Plaid Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I sprinkled wheat flour on the dough,folded it in half,then pressed down with the heel of my palm ( do palms have heels?).Folded over,turn,repeat. I even flipped the whole thing over a few times. I may have used 2 cups of wheat flour,but no more than that.
I put a small bowl of warm water on the lowest rack in the oven,then the dough in a big bowl covered with a towel near the top rack. I left enough space so the dough could rise. It took about an hour for the dough to rise. Onto step 3.

OK,so I had to punch the dough down. How did I know when it was ready? it was up pretty high,but was it considered "doubled"? Better Homes said to take two fingers and poke them into the dough about 1/2 ". If your fingers leave an indentation,it's ready to punch down. One doesn't actually haul off and punch the dough,but you take your fist and push it into the dough,which causes the dough to go down. I used my fingers to loosen the dough from the sides of the bowl,which was very easy,then after I took the dough out of the bowl I tore it up into three sections,made those sections into loaf shapes,put them in the pans,and put the pans in the oven.

Step 4-I checked the bread after 25 minutes,and flicked the tops with my finger to see if they sounded hollow. They did,so they were done. They slid out of the pans very easily,and I brushed the melted butter on the tops.

Now comes the important part:taste. How did my first endeavor in bread making come out? Did you really think I could wait until the bread was cooled? What is better than hot bread with butter melting into it? Not much! The loaves sure smelled wonderful.

The taste was marvelous! You have noticeable but not overwhelming honey taste,followed by a subtle nutty wheat taste. Delicious! Add bread to the list of things I will no longer purchase at the store!!!

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