Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Adventures in Bread Making

There are several blogs out there with information on how to make bread. I have read many of them in my search. This is a process I have found that works for me.

I have tried since childhood to duplicate my mother's bread. 100% whole wheat home-made, hand-made bread. However, when she wrote out for me the instructions included words like "until it feels right" and no actual measurement for flour, and when attempted it kept turning out as a very hard lump. Throughout the years I tried many whole wheat recipes - the ones that worked included an amount of white flour in them. None of the 100% whole wheat recipes worked.

I have also used my bread machine to try to make whole wheat bread. While bread machines are supposedly foolproof, it is not true when it comes to 100% whole wheat bread - you can still end up with a heavy lump. le sigh.

For some time, I gave up. At least I gave up trying to make it - but I kept searching. I read the information from 5 minute artisan bread, I watched Alton Brown, I read blogs. Everyone give little hints on how to make it work. They made it look so easy, but I was skeptical. Then I picked up my husbands old book "Mrs. Curtis' Household Remedies and Cookbook." It listed a recipe for "entire wheat bread". It listed a few things I had not considered before - like heated liquid. I finally had the courage to try it. It turned out great! Yipee!

The secret at the time was scalding the milk (150-180 degrees) - starting out with warm liquid to dissolve the sugar, and then letting it cool a little (120-130 degrees) and adding everything else in. Also the time of mixing it 5 minutes at the end worked great.

The recipe is simple, and it works. It has worked well enough that I have felt comfortable experimenting with the basic recipe and trying other breads and techniques.

The basic recipe (I am taking this from memory - I will try to post a follow up with the actual wording of Mrs. Curtis).

In bowl put
1/2 cup brown sugar (I use 1/2C honey +1 T Molasses)
1t salt

add in
4C scalded milk (I use water from my faucet (120 degrees) + 1/2C dry milk)
mix until sugar disolved

mix in
1 cake yeast (2.25t yeast)

mix in 9C entire wheat flour (I end up using closer to 11 - however, I mix them in 3 C at a time)
Mix/knead for 5 minutes

Let rise till double in size (about 1 - 2 hours)

Divide and make 3 or 4 loaves (depending on size of pans). Let rise again until almost double (about 30 minutes).

Bake 375 for 35 minutes.

With this recipe it takes me just 15 minutes to throw together, then 1-2 hours to rise, then maybe another 15 minutes to form the loaves, and another 30 minutes to rise, then 35 minutes to bake. Each batch makes about 4 loaves. I am currently making this recipe once per week to sell at farmer's markets or to coworkers.

I also make a Rosemary - Olive Oil bread (8-10 loaves per week). That is another post for another day.