Aug 1, 2012

Homemade Bread...Revisited

In 2009, I published my mother-in-law's recipe for amazing homemade bread. Shortly after, I began making our daily bread in a bread machine - but when that bread machine went defunct, I quickly found myself going back to my mom-in-law's delicious hand made bread. But because I now try to feed my children only whole wheat bread, I've made some changes to the recipe. And unlike those bread machine recipes I used to use, this hand made bread isn't crumbly. Instead, it's as moist and soft as store bought bread - but much cheaper and healthier!

This revised recipe makes one sandwich loaf, if you put the dough in an ordinary loaf pan. Or feel free to make two free-form breads. You may wish to whip up more than one batch of this bread, freezing extra loaves for later use.

Some folks may be put off by the "extra" step of cooking the flour and sugar over the stove before making the batter - but this easy step is the secret to this bread's deliciousness; it's well worth the few minutes it takes!

What You Need: 

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
4 1/2 cups flour, divided (for best results, use white flour)

1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (you can also use olive oil, but the bread is most moist and tender with the coconut oil)
1 egg

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

Small bowl
Mixing spoon
Loaf pan or baking sheet

How To Do It:

1. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup warm water, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and yeast; set aside. Good yeast will be foaming by the time you’re ready to mix it into the dough.

2. In a saucepan, mix 1 cup all purpose flour with 1 ½ cups water. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will get lumpy and stick to the pan, but keep cooking and stirring; it will smooth out.

3. Once the mixture is smooth, remove it from the heat and add 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, salt, milk, oil, egg, and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Mix well. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture; mix in 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour.

4. Leave the dough in the pan, cover it with a clean dishcloth and place in a reasonably warm, non-drafty place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. 
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle flour onto the kitchen counter or a cutting board and place the dough on top of it. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on top of the dough. Knead* 2 to 3 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Cover the dough again and let it sit for 15 minutes. 

6. Knead a few strokes, then place inside a greased loaf pan, cover, and let sit another 15 minutes. (Or divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a rounded rectangle. Place the rectangles on a greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise.) Bake at 375 degrees F. for 25 to 35 minutes, or until you can knock the top of the bread with your knuckles and it sounds hollow.

1. Cover your hands with a light dusting of flour.
2. Using the heel of your hands, press down and push the dough away from you. Then fold the dough back over itself, toward you.
3. Turn the dough one quarter- to half-way around and repeat step 2.
4. Follow the recipe directions to know how long to knead the dough. When the recipe doesn’t specify, knead until the dough is smooth.

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