Yep, I had another baby! Maysa Jean was born in March after a very trying pregnancy. Whatever down time I had then was spend trying to rest. Since she has been born I've been enjoying my family, enjoying her infancy, and willing her to be little as long as possible (along with my other babies!). She is an incredible baby - happy, strong, healthy....we are all smitten with this last addition to our family.
While that is mostly still true, I'm trying to take some time for myself. Even if that means I set up an activity for the older kids, let them watch some TV, or let Maysa play with toys by my feet, I want to start writing again. The words are always in my head. Maybe I'll start making tea and try to figure out what is so great about it while I write.
My first returning post is about bread. I couldn't think of a better recipe to share than the one I've been making over and over lately for school lunches and breakfast toast. Or, my before bed snack to get me through the long hours of the night. Its a wonderful, nutritious bread that is great for sandwiches...something that is sometimes hard to come by with home made bread. It can tend to come out gummy or crumby and hard to slice - but this bread has always worked out perfectly for me.
It starts with a trick I learned with a first rising. While normally, you'd let yeast proof in warm water for 5 minutes or so, this recipe has the yeast proofing in a flour slurry for half an hour. I think it really gives the yeast a better start. It also lets the little bit of while flour you use develop its gluten so you can use a whole wheat flour for the rest of it.
|Before and after the yeast develops|
The whole wheat flour I use for baking is called Canadian whole wheat flour. Its processed differently than others in that the germ is actually separated from the wheat, but you still get every part of the grain. This means its better for baked goods because moisture can get to the endosperm of the wheat and develop the gluten there, making for a better structured loaf. My Mom gets this nice flour for me from a Mennonite store in Wisconsin. However, if you don't live by a Mennonite store, I'd recommend this:
Candian Whole Wheat Flour
Once you try it in place of the whole wheat flour you've been using, you won't go back!
After the yeast slurry, its your basic bread recipe. Milk gives it some heartiness, salt brings out the flavors, and honey sweetens it slightly. I put a water bath in my oven while this bakes to help keep it moist. This bread takes some time due to risings but its well worth it!
|I don't add flour until the dough forms a good ball - I get it to this point, where it is still very sticky. I think this is better for a sandwich bread.|
|Kneaded a few times|
|Formed into a ball - this is the best I could do to get a picture of how I gather it at the bottom to give it a smooth top|
|Keep pinching in the middle until it spreads out into a loaf shape|
|Rising up out of the pans|
|My water bath|
|Bread! I think I let it rise a little long because the top got a little bubbly, but that's OK.|
|Perfect for my kids' PB&Js!|
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
1 cup warm water (115 degrees)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp. honey
3 tsp. salt
5-6 cups Whole Wheat Flour (Canadian is best - I use this: Canadian Whole Wheat Flour)
Put warm water, flour, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. If you don't have a mixer, no worry, this is a great bread to make by hand. You'll just have to knead it. Mix it to a slurry, cover, and let sit for half an hour.
Add in milk (warm to about body temperature....I microwaved it for 1 minute) and honey and mix, then add in 5 cups of the Whole Wheat flour. Mix with the paddle attachment for 4-5 minutes. Add in more flour until you get a very sticky dough, but it still gathers around the hook. You can refer to my picture above.
Put into a greased bowl and let rise for 1-1 1/2 hours or until double. Turn out and knead a few times, then cut it in half. Make a round out of each half by pushing the dough under with your fingers while to top smooths out. I tried to get a decent picture of what I mean. Continue to push the dough in the center so that it begins to look more log-like (until it will fit in your 9 x 5 bread pan). Grease bread pans, put dough in, and let rise for another hour or until it is rising above the pan.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Put a pan with hot water at the bottom of the oven before you turn it on. When pre-heated, bake the bread for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden.