24 March 2009
(This is for you, Cora! If you have any questions, let me know!)
I started with a basic recipe and then researched how bread works and tweaked and tweaked and tweaked (I'm still tweaking, but the foundation is solid). This is for the Bosch, but it can be cut down and made by hand (see instructions below).
4 C warm water
2/3 C neutral oil (I use grapeseed or safflower)
2/3 C honey
3 1/2 T instant yeast
3 1/2 T dough enhancer
1/4 C wheat gluten
2 T salt
approx. 5 lbs. freshly-ground whole wheat flour (I like Prairie Gold best.)
Add all the liquid ingredients to the Bosch (set up with the dough hook). Turn on low. Add all the dry ingredients except the wheat. Slowly add the wheat until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Turn the Bosch to the second speed and knead for about 10 minutes (until a small glob of dough can be stretched thin without breaking).
Divide the dough into 6 lumps (mine are about 1-1/4 lb. each). Using a rolling pin, roll out each lump on an oiled counter; roll into a loaf (similar to making cinnamon rolls) and place seam-side down in a sprayed or oiled, 1-lb loaf pan. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until at least doubled in size (mine get even bigger).
Preheat oven to 325˚. Place a metal pie plate or cake pan on the bottom rack. When the oven is heated, toss 3 or 4 ice cubes onto the pie plate (the extra steam helps the bread to rise higher). Bake loaves for 28 minutes. When they're done, flip them out of the pans and onto a rack to cool. When cool, place in bread bags. I freeze whatever we won't be using in the next day or so. Remember, there are no preservatives.
I sometimes brush an egg wash on the loaves and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I also sometimes add 1/4 C non-instant dried milk for extra calcium.
This dough can be used for cinnamon bread. Make the dough as instructed. Roll out enough for a loaf very thin; sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on the rolled-out dough. Roll up and bake as directed. (You don't want to put cinnamon into the dough itself as it will inhibit rising.)
I also add herbs and olive oil and sometimes substitute white bread flour for some or all of the flour. I have a baguette pan that I'm eager to try.
To make without a Bosch, halve the recipe (it's pretty hard to stir that much dough by hand). Place liquid ingredients into a large bowl. Place all dry ingredients into the bowl (except flour). (Even though most recipes tell you to proof the yeast in water and sugar or honey before adding the other ingredients, when I was first learning and doing it by hand, one of my recipes explained it the way I've explained it and it turned out better.)
Add the flour a cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until it's too hard to stir. Dump it out onto a well-floured counter and continue to add flour until it's got enough (the amount of flour used varies, depending on your weather and the moisture content of your flour). Once you have enough flour, continue to knead by hand, adding as little additional flour as you possibly can. Kneading develops the gluten, which traps the carbon dioxide released by the yeast, which makes the bread rise. It's also a great time to pray about worry or frustrations.
Oil a large bowl; place the dough in it and then flip the dough over. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place until the dough has at least doubled in size (an oven, heated to 150˚ and then turned off works very well). Punch it down. You can either flip it over and let it rise in the bowl again, or you can go straight to forming your loaves. An extra rise will make it more fine (less coarse). Bake as directed above.