Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the category “Baking”

Druid Bread

This is a recipe adapted from the book, Natural Magic by John Michael Greer. I love this recipe. It is easy and super yummy and can be adjusted to your liking. I am always playing around with the whole wheat to all-purpose ratio.

This recipe makes one loaf.


  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 rounded tbsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup honey


Slowly pour yeast into water. Stir. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

If your yeast gets foamy, it has been activated. Make sure your water is not too hot or too cold.

While yeast is sitting, mix dry ingredients together. Pour in honey and yeast Mix together, then knead for 5 – 10 minutes. If you have a dough hook on a standing mixer, it helps a ton. However, hand kneading is a really good way to get out any stress you might be feeling. I am quite fond of my beautiful KitchenAid. I even blinged her out. I get out my stress later on with punching the dough.

Oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn over to coat in oil. Let rise until double in size, about 30 minutes.

Punch down dough. Let rise again.

Oil cookie sheet/bread pans. Punch down dough. Shape dough and place on cookie sheet or in pan. I like to melt butter and use a brush to spread it on the top. This bread can be woven, baked in a bread pan, or shaped into rolls.

I like to weave this bread. This loaf was done with four pieces.

Move oven rack to center and place an oven safe container with water on lower rack. Heat oven to 450°. Let dough rise and rest for about 15 minutes before placing in oven. As soon as you put bread in oven, lower heat to 375°.

Let bread bake until it sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. 18 – 23 minutes.


Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread

I have been on a search for years for the perfect homemade sandwich bread. WHEAT sandwich bread. I came across a lot of issues in this search. Most wheat breads come out kind of dense. Or they taste funny. Or, if they taste fine, they have a weird aftertaste. Then, I happened across this recipe. I have to admit that I waited a few months before trying it. I now make it nearly every week, except for the summertime. It just makes my house too hot. I make it about once every other week to once per month in the summer months. I am trying to talk the hubby into letting me have an outdoor oven.

This recipe is a little complex, which is why I waited to make it. It is totally worth it. The bread comes out soft and not too crumbly. It is easy to cut and does not have that odd taste that has put me off in the past. I will post the original recipe with notes on my notes in italics.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

This recipe does have a few steps. It is time intensive in that respect, though each step should not take longer than 15 – 20 minutes to complete. I usually make up the biga and soaker somewhere around 4pm the day before I plan on baking the bread. The biga and the soaker need to rest for 8 – 24 hours. Especially the biga. I have used the soaker within 4 hours and my bread turned out just fine. The biga does need to sit and yeast up for a decent loaf. I am sure that “yeast up” is a completely technical term somewhere. Or at least it is in my head.

With a lot of recipes, I am willing to use cheaper ingredients. Bread is NOT one of those. My preferred flour is Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur. I generally use Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat and King Arthur Bread Flour. I also splurge on my milk. For this recipe I use Pure Eire Non-Homogenized Whole Milk. It might be my imagination, but I am pretty sure this milk has the perfect fatty content that makes this bread perfectly springy.

So, yes, I am willing to buy what I consider quality ingredients for this bread. By my calculations, each loaf is approximately $2 to $2.50. Which still beats out the $4 – $6 cost at the store.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Bread

Original recipe from Cook’s Illustrated


2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour
1 cup (8 ounces) warm water, about 100-110 degrees F
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast (I round it and even throw in a dash more)

3 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 cup wheat germ (I like to use ground flax-seed. This is also an optional ingredient. I have added nothing and had perfectly fine results.)
2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup honey
4 teaspoons table salt (3 tsp works fine)
2 tablespoons instant or rapid-rise yeast (I round mine out)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (I use 4 tbsp)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (This can be cut down or cut out. I do like the texture of the bread better with at least 1 tbsp of oil added.)
bread flour for work surface


To make the biga: In a large bowl, combine bread flour, warm water and yeast. Stir with wooden spoon until no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set out overnight (8 to 24 hours) at room temperature. (I combine the water and yeast before mixing it into the flour.)

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Biga

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Biga

To make the soaker: In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, wheat germ and milk. Stir with wooden spoon until shaggy mass forms, about 1 minute. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Return to bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (8 to 24 hours).

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread Soaker

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread Soaker

To make the dough: Remove soaker from fridge and break up into 1-inch pieces. Place pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with dough hook. Add biga, honey, salt, yeast, butter and oil. Stir with dough hook until just combined, about 2 minutes, then increase speed to medium and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 1 minute. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise 45 minutes.

Uncover bowl and punch down dough. Fold half of partially risen dough over itself toward the middle, then rotate bowl 90 degrees and repeat. Do this for a total of 8 times. Re-cover bowl and let dough rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. (My dough usually rises much faster during the 2nd rising. Learn from my mistakes. Do not let your bread turn out like this. Check it every 15 – 20 minutes during the second rising. The bread will still turn out fine, your work area will just be a mess.):

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread. Uber rising.

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread. über rising.

Arrange two racks in the oven to middle and lowest positions and place a baking stone on middle rack. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans and set aside. Punch down dough and divide in half. On a well-floured surface using fingers, press one dough half into a 8-by-17-inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, carefully roll up dough into a log, keeping log taut by tucking it under itself as you roll up. Carefully place log seam-side down in prepared loaf pan. Repeat with remaining dough half. Lightly grease the tops of the loaves and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

When dough is fully risen, place a heatproof bowl or pan on the bottom oven rack. Bring 2 cups water to a boil on the stovetop; pour boiling water into heatproof bowl. Uncover risen loaves and place on baking stone. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake loaves until dark brown and a thermometer inserted in the bottom of the loaf reads 200 degrees F, about 40-45 minutes. Remove loaves from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes; remove loaves from loaf pans and return to cooling rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

My Oven Rant

I haven’t had a working oven in almost a month. A month! Our landlord had ordered one once it became clear that no place in town would be able to fix the old one. It should have been an easy fix, to be honest. It wasn’t our landlord’s fault or the repair folks in town. GE just made a piece of crap oven (JRP28 series) with an obvious problem and no replacement parts. However, this would not be obvious at first glance. I’ve looked this oven up online and at first glance, it has pretty glowing reviews. Then if you look closely, you will notice those reviews are for the seller – not just the product. If you REALLY start to dig around, you will find that the actual product reviews are not so glowing. The biggest complaint involves the wiring in the clock. If the oven gets too hot, the wiring will burn and malfunction. Then it will beep incessantly until you turn the power off in the circuit breaker box. Yes, if the OVEN gets too HOT. WTF. This means that if you cook anything for an extended period of time, you’re screwed. If you try to use your self-cleaner (which is right there on the oven features), you’re screwed. If you cook anything above 450 º F, #you.are.screwed. This is not some cheapo appliance. These ovens average $1500.

Now, a new oven did arrive last Wednesday, buuuut the very nice and competent Sears installers found a few things wrong. The original handyman who had installed all the appliances to begin with obviously had no idea what he was doing. The first problem discovered was that the oven had not been installed properly. The Sears installers barely needed to pull on it to just have it fall out of the wall. This is frightening. My kids are with me in the kitchen on a regular basis. I do a lot of cooking and baking. If my boys had been next to me while I opened the door a little too hard just once… Well yeah. Disaster.
The second thing was that the oven they took out, which also means the oven that had been ordered, were not the correct size for the space. Which means we have to wait even longer as a new one is shipped out. C~, the original handyman, is a bit of an idiot. He has worked on things around this house since we moved in, but we haven’t heard from him since this whole oven fiasco started. He started to fix the siding on the house, but never finished fixing it, and never did paint it.
It is my understanding that he is the one to blame for the purchasing of the appliances in this house. Dumbass. I mean that term for C~ and for the landlord who was willing to trust him. Supposedly he was able to get the appliances at really great prices. I do believe that you get what you pay for. That does not mean pay an arm and a leg for everything. Do a little research first. It takes a little effort, but that will usually pay for itself with a quality product.

Anyway, since we will not have an oven for at least a week or 2 longer, I have started to look at my options:

  • Using my father-in-law’s super awesome grill.
  • Finding some unique solutions.
John, my husband’s stepfather, is currently living with us. He and Bobi have brought along a lot of cool things. One of which is a 5 burner grill. I have been thinking of using the grill to bake bread. My thought is to use the 2 side burners and place a container of water (I think that helps with heat distribution) on the top rack. I would need to figure out how high to let the flame go and balance each burner out so they are putting out the same heat. Should be interesting. I am hoping to try it out tomorrow.
Unique solutions… If I owned this house, I would probably go ahead and build a brick oven in the backyard. But I don’t. However, someone told me about Apple Box Ovens. I am totally in love with this idea. This would be something that we could take camping. The materials are easy to find and not very expensive.
So, I will probably go ahead and try the grill, but I really want to try out an apple box oven too. I think I will bake bread on the grill tomorrow and build the oven on Friday. If I remember, I will write about my results.

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