Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daily Bread

Oh my! We've been back home for well over a week now and I have not written a word in this space. Busy busy with all the usual around here...

However I have been wanting to share my bread making/bread machine progress for quite some time, so here 'goes.

Several months ago I purchased this (for less than the current price) and have tried out a handful of recipes. My foray into bread making has been motivated by the current no-dairy no-soy situation, since almost all packaged bread has one or both of those ingredients. I decided to spring for a bread machine because, as I described here, making bread totally by hand is not really my favorite thing.

(photography note - hate the yellow cast the fluorescent light in the kitchen gives pictures... need to learn about white balance and other camera tricks)

Anyway, I have a HUGE book of bread-machine-specific recipes but have only tried a few since many call for butter and/or milk (or cheese! or chocolate!). For now my big mission has been to settle on a recipe for a basic whole wheat bread that would be suitable for everyday toast and sandwiches. I ended up combing two recipes from the instruction booklet to make this bread - it's not terribly exciting, but that's what I was looking for. It even passed the Amy test - she didn't comment on it. This recipe makes 2 pounds of dough, and right now I am happy with the results I get from simply using the dough cycle, then dividing the dough into two loaf pans, giving it one final (long) rise, and baking it in the regular oven. A bit more labor, but still heaps easier than going all of the way from scratch.

Basic Honey-Wheat Bread:

1 1/4c. water
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. bread flour
3 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Add to the pan in your machine's recommended order (usually liquids first, yeast last). My machine's dough cycle lasts hour and a half, at which point I remove and divide the dough, shape it into two loaves and let it rise in two greased loaf pans for a full 90 minutes. The extra rise time really helps make it light. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Also, I have recently discovered what a difference vital wheat gluten makes - it makes homemade bread behave and do all the things bread is supposed to do. Who knew.

Now, under the category "Ways to Fall Off the Wagon":

Sugar cookies made my me and Amy this weekend. It is possible I've had one (or six)... However, William has seemed no worse for those transgressions - we might be starting to turn the corner. He's going on five months old now, and my girl will be three YEARS old in just a few weeks. Oh my, oh my...

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