Sunday, March 16, 2014

ChezCindy: Everyday Whole Wheat Bread: Baking Bread at Home

I have been cooking and baking since I was a very young child.  As a young cook, I never thought to set limitations on what I wanted to cook.  I simply found a recipe and jumped in.  Our local newspaper used to publish recipes and I found one that caught my interest - whole wheat onion dill bread.  I clipped the recipe from the paper and baked that wonderful aromatic bread for years.  After college and out on my own, I continued to make bread from scratch rarely buying bread from the grocery.  As life's priorities changed, I stopped baking bread moving on to new interests. 

Over the last few years, the thought of once again baking my own bread started nagging at my brain. This weekend, I finally got hooked and made this multi-grain bread.  It came out good, except I forgot to add salt.  Bread made without salt is not good.  But I was happy that it rose properly, and the texture was great. 

Making bread from scratch is much easier than yesteryear with the help of the KitchenAid stand mixer.  Every mixer includes a dough hook.  My guess is most home cooks leave that attachment somewhere in the back of the cupboard, as I had for years.  Using the dough hook eliminates most of the kneading by hand and takes less time than the tiresome kneading on the counter. 

Bread Tools

Making bread from scratch is not all that complicated, it just takes a commitment of time.  Plan on being in your house for 3 - 4 hours.  The active time is minimal, but each step takes roughly an hour before proceeding to the next - an hour to proof, an additional hour for the shaped bread to rise, and lastly about an hour to bake.  

Proofed Dough                                                                               Prepared Loaves for Rising
                                                                      Loaves Ready to Bake
 Basic Whole Wheat Bread

3 1/2 cups warm water, 110 degrees
3 tablespoons honey
2 packets of active dry yeast or 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons salt
canola oil
1 egg white
2 tablespoons rolled oats for topping the loaves
Combine the warm water, honey and the yeast in a large liquid measuring cup.  Stir until dissolved.  Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Working with a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, transfer the yeast mixture to the mixing bowl.  In a large separate bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups of bread flour, the whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt; whisk to combine.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the bowl with the yeast mixture.  Continue mixing until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and climbs up the dough hook, you may need to increase the speed of the mixer. 
Remove the dough from the hook and bowl, and place onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead in the remaining half cup of bread flour a little at a time, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Lightly oil a large bowl with canola oil, place the kneaded dough into the bowl; cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap.  Place the bowl in a warm place, and let the dough rise until double in size.  This will take 1 to 1 1/2 hours.    
Turn the now risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, flatten the dough by rolling it out into a 7-by-5 inch rectangle.  Roll up the dough by the long-side, flatten each end and fold the flaps under the dough, seam side down.  Repeat with the second piece of dough.  Place each formed loaf into an oiled 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Whisk the egg white with 1 teaspoon of water.  Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg white; sprinkle the rolled oats over the loaf tops.  Cover the loaves with oiled plastic wrap and allow the loaves to rise again until doubled in size, about an hour. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Once the loaves of dough have doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap and place in the oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  If you have an internal temperature probe, the temp should read as 205 degrees.  Transfer the pans to a rack to cool for about 5 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, invert the loaves onto the rack and to cool slightly before slicing.   

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