November 11, 2007
Busy People's Bread
I have been experimenting with bread recipes for awhile now, trying to find one that either doesn't use a lot of yeast and the flour has been pre-soaked or is sourdough without being so strong. We generally eat storebought bread when I don't have a lot of time in the kitchen.
I was given a book for my birthday (my 20th) called Laurel's Kitchen: Bread Book or something- can't remember. Anyways, the whole book is filled recipes, how to's and all sorts of great things to know about baking 100% whole grain breads. I've tried several recipes but the bread was too strong for our liking.
I was talking to my grandmother not too long ago and she was remembering how her mom made bread and how great it was. She made a 'sponge' that 'started' the dough overnight. My brain instantly flashed to a section in my book about sponges. So I looked at it and thought I could tweak it to do what I wanted. I tried it awhile back and was totally amazed at how well the bread turned out-probably my best ever, besides the challah :)
I tried it again Friday and it is GREAT! I love everything about it and the best part is I forgot about the dough and left it sitting way longer than I meant and it still turned out great. So here is my recipe, however things aren't exact- I go by feel, not measurements.
Busy People's Bread
For the sponge:
1 teaspoon yeast
3/4 c warm water
3 T honey (I used brown sugar this time)
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
For the bread dough- add to the sponge after rising:
1 cup warm water
2+ cups all purpose flour
1 T salt (I use Celtic sea salt)
2 T butter
First, dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Then add the honey, buttermilk, and 2 cups flour. Mix together, then add the rest of the flour until you get a smooth elastic dough. You will end up just kneading it all together after the first few cups of flour. Butter bowl and top of dough, set aside in a cool place with a damp towel covering it. Let rise at least 6hrs, 8-12 would be best.
*Note: I had intended for this stage to occur in 6-8hrs, however, things happened, I forgot and left it 18 hrs. A thick crust had formed on top of the dough and it had deflated, plus is smelled very alcoholic. I kneaded it a bit, proceeded with the rest of the recipe and it was great.
Punch dough down and add the warm water. (If you have a mixer with a dough hook happy you, if not, squish it with your hands till sort of mixed) Add in salt and flour- you may only need 1 cup, but I needed at least 2 cups to get a good elastic dough. Then knead in butter- you do this by putting small bits on your fingers and kneading it in with the dough. Or you could melt it and pour it all in at once before adding the flour.
Once smooth and elastic, cut dough in half and form into loaves. Put dough in greased loaf pans and let rise 1-1.5hrs. Put in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to and hour. Turn out of pans to cool, slice and eat it.
This bread has a mild flavor, good with anything. It has a semi-crunchy crust but not too much, and the texture is even and slightly chewy, like al dente pasta, not squishy. My daughter who is not a bread eater at 2 pieces in one sitting- crust and all!!
I plan to try it either all or mostly whole wheat next time. I had also intended to add wheat gluten but I forgot. More tweaking in the future.