Thursday, January 22, 2015
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Once, years ago, a plumber working on the outside of my apartment building knocked on my door and asked me what I was baking. He said he hadn't smelled that smell since he was a little boy. I told him I had just taken homemade whole wheat dread out of the oven. He looked so wistful, I told him to wait a moment, and I went inside and returned with a loaf for him. As he held it in his hands, then held it to his nose, he looked like he had died and gone to heaven. This is the recipe for that bread.
Warm a pottery bread bowl with warm water, pour out and then add 2 1/2 cups warm water; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Wait 5 minutes, then sprinkle surface with 2 cups white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. DO NOT STIR IN. Wait until you see the crack in the surface of the flour--you will sometimes see bubbles of yeast around the edges. This proof that your yeast is working well.
Stir flours into yeast mixture very well with a spoon. Then sprinkle over the surface of the doughy batter 1/2 cup sugar [either white or brown] or 1/2 c honey or 1/2 cup molasses. Add 1/3 cup oil THEN 2 teaspoons salt. NOW stir into batter. You must not allow the salt to come into contact with the surface of the batter without the buffering of the sugar and oil, or you will kill or at least deter your yeast. Stir batter again for a couple of minutes until thoroughly combined.
Stir in about 3 cups of whole wheat flour, keeping a little in the cup to use if needed. Depending upon the humidity of the day or your kitchen, you may need to add more or less flour. You will need to switch to kneading to combine all of the flour necessary to make a proper dough. You will learn by experience--too little equals a sticky dough, too much and your dough will be dry and result in crumbly bread. Clean out the pottery bowl, grease with a teaspoon of oil, place your ball of dough in the bottom, then turn over and punch in two finger marks in the top and cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel.
When your dough has doubled in size, you should no longer be able to see the finger indentations.
Punch dough down and turn out onto marble slab or cutting board. Cut dough in half, roll each into a rectangle and then roll up pinching and tucking under all seams and place top down into greased or oiled bread pan, then reinsert seam side down and cover with plastic wrap, a damp kitchen towel or place under a proofing dome until dough rises about 1 1/2 inches above the edge of the pan.
Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 20-35 minutes, checking until bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. [I allow my bread to cool in the pans which allows the side and bottom crust to soften and shrink enough to slip out of the pan. I highly recommend Chicago Metallic bread pans.] Slice and enjoy! Makes great toast.