Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

This may seem odd, but ever since I began baking, I've been intimidated by bread. Well, at least yeasted bread. Breakfast bread I can do. Give me a recipe for banana bread and I'll whip it right up, but not yeasted bread. With all the kneading and rising and rolling, it has always been incredibly daunting to me, my personal Everest, if you will. But last week, it was finally time for me to face the challenge.

I had run out of excuses– I had a spacious kitchen with an island perfect for kneading and rolling, my mother's old rolling pin (she was an incredible baker and even ground her own wheat, intense!), yeast in the pantry, and, thanks to my lack of AC, a nice warm place to allow my dough to rise.

Initially, I had planned to use a recipe from my KitchenAid cookbook of baking basics, but as I was measuring out my flour, I noticed I only had fresh milk and the recipe called for dried milk. So, I was forced to search online for a whole wheat bread recipe using fresh milk, which was surprisingly tricky to find.

Eventually, I wound up with this recipe from some random website, but I was pleased with how it turned out. Certain directions are vague. For instance, “Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.” What is a soft dough? How soft is soft? I have absolutely no idea, so I just played around with it a little bit.

The only major problem I encountered was the outside of the bread was very crusty, while the inside was still a little underdone. Not sure how to fix that. I think I’ll try out a different recipe next time. Overall, I really enjoyed my first bread-making experience, especially that whole kneading thing. Glad I finally gave bread baking a chance!

Try a slice of this bread fresh out of the oven with some blueberry preserves

Bon appetit!

Whole Wheat Bread 
Makes 2 loaves
8 cups whole wheat flour
2 packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 3 1/2 cups flour, undissolved yeast and salt. Heat milk, water, honey and oil until very warm (120-130° F). Gradually, add to dry ingredients. Using the dough hook, beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup of flour and beat for another 2 minutes at high speed, continuing to scrape down the bowl. With a spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Continue to mix for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5-6 minutes. 

For a great instructional video on kneading check out this tutorial on Epicurious

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Loosely cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45-60 minutes. Punch dough down. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll each into a 12 x 7" rectangle. Beginning at the short end of each rectangle, roll up tightly. Pinch the seams and ends to seal. Place, seam sides down, in two greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2" loaf pans. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 30-60 minutes.

Bake at 375° F for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove and transfer to wire racks to cool.

I like that this bread is nice and crusty on the outside but soft on the inside

Source: cdkitchen

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