When I was feeling ambitious last month, I baked up a storm of bread. My brother-in-law passed along an awesome recipe, and I think we've all eaten our weight in the stuff since I tried it out. And my favorite way to make it is as a cinnamon loaf-- wrap the dough up with tons of butter, cinnamon, and sugar.
But it's great everyday bread, too. My complaint with homemade bread was always that it was too dense and crumbled too easily. Not so with this recipe. It's soft, tender, and sooo tasty.
The recipe seemed a little crazy at first, but it's pretty simple once you run through it. So here we go:
Combine in mixing bowl:
2 1/2 Cups very warm water (my gauge has been 2 cups of the hottest water
from my tap, plus 1/2 C of room temp water )
3 C freshly ground whole wheat flour
1 T plus 1 t. yeast
1 T wheat gluten (ordered from PH grain, though grocery stores carry it)
Stir just until mixed and let mixture stand 10 minutes
1/3 C half canola oil, half applesauce
1/3 C honey
1 T. lemon juice (no need to be fresh)
1 T sea salt
3 1/2 - 4 C whole wheat flour
1 T dough enhancer
*additional ingredients can be added or subbed for some of the flour: flax meal, millet, oat bran, nuts, etc.
1. Knead bowl of mixer (with dough hooks) for 10 minutes. Do not add any
additional flour until the end. The dough will look sticky and you'll
think, "I need more flour" but wait and it will form a ball. At the end of
kneading, the dough should be slightly sticky to the touch, but not stick to
your hands. Adjust as needed. Use a little flour to lightly coat the
dough, and pull out of the bowl.
2. Immediately divide the dough into two equal portions, and knead each
loaf for 30 seconds forming a loaf with no creases.
3. Place each loaf into a greased and floured pan. Let rise approx 40 min.
(until just above the lip of the pan) Make sure you preheat your
oven according to when you estimate your bread being ready to put in the
oven. (this is critical, bread needs to go in preheated oven...if it is too
risen, it will be airy and fall apart, but if not risen enough it will be
dense and cakey)
4. Bake bread at 350 for approx 30 minutes. When you tap the top of the bread, it should sound hollow.
5. Remove bread from pan and onto a cooling rack immediately. Let cool at
least 15 minutes before cutting into it and eating a big buttery piece, and
let cool completely before bagging (no sweating inside the bag).
*Notes: I didn't have the gluten or dough enhancer at first, so I used white bread flour instead. It has an higher level of gluten and results in a better bread. So, if you don't want to track down those extras, just use bread flour. My next step is to get a wheat grinder so I can use the freshly ground wheat flour for the most nutritious bread. (Something that makes Sam sad. He likes white bread and would probably choose Wonder bread if given the option.) Wheat begins losing its nutrients as soon as you grind it, so the fresher the flour the better.