Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baking: Whole Wheat Birdseed Bread!

One of my resolutions for the new year was to not buy loaves of packaged bread for the house. Atkins? you ask. No, I simply want a little more control over what is in my bread, to limit packaging some and I like the challenge. 

One great book I have been using is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Their method of bread baking is to mix up a batch of dough that hangs out in your fridge and is ready when you are. You do have to allow time for the bread to rise; once when the dough is initially mixed up and once before baking. The "hands on" time is quite limited. I have been using their recipes to make loaves of delicious bread, sticky buns, pizza, calzones and more. They're really wonderful! The instructions make even the beginner baker feel confident. You can do it; give it a try!


I LOVE their whole wheat bread recipe! I have found too many whole wheat bread recipes that taste like a brick...not great for converting folks to the high-fiber virtues of whole grains! This one is hearty but still soft. The original recipe is great as is, it is also delicious with added nuts and seeds; I've added pecans, flax, almonds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds....hence birdseed bread!


100% whole wheat sandwich bread 
(that doesn't taste like a brick)

Makes 3 1.5lb loaves (my bread pans must be big because it makes two for me)

1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (two packets)
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup honey
5 tablespoons vegetable oil (neutral flavor)
6 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

1. Mixing and storing the dough. Mix the yeast, salt, honey, and oil with the milk and water in a  5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with a dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with a dough hook).
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top); approximately 2 to 3 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.

***

5. On baking day. Lightly grease a 9 x 4 x 3-inch non-stick loaf pan. Using wet hands, scoop out a 1 1/2 pound (cantaloupe-size) handful of dough. This dough is pretty sticky and often it's easiest to handle it with wet hands. Keeping your hands wet, quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan. You want to fill the pan slightly more than half-full.
7. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flour the top of the loaf and slash, using the tip of a serrated knife.

Rising...hanging out with my super cool Kitchen Aid mixer :)


8. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with an empty broiler tray on another shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread. If you're not using a stone, the preheat can be as short as 5 minutes.
9. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour one cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm.
10. Allow to cool completely before slicing in order to cut reasonable sandwich slices.

All done and ready to be sampled! Yummy!

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