Fox and Broom

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

Archive for the category “Bread Recipes”

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

Ingredients

Biga:
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)

Soaker:
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

Dough:
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

Directions

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

The Joy of Cooking Pita Bread

Pita Bread
from The 75th Anniversary Edition of The Joy of Cooking Cookbook by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker

I have had a few people ask me for this recipe. For some reason, pita bread seems to be a daunting bread creation. It is really very simple. It will take a while as the dough does need to rise at least once. I usually let it rise twice.

Ingredients

3 cups bread flour (I have used all-purpose with good results)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 packages (1 1/2 tbsp) active dry yeast (I usually use 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/4 cup room temp water

Combine flour, sugar, salt, & yeast in a large bowl or the bowl fo a heavy-duty mixer. Add the butter and water. Mix by hand or on low-speed for about 1 minute. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic. Add flour or water as needed; the dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temp until doubled in volume, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Set a rack in the lower level of the oven and place a pizza or baking stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450°F for 45 minutes. (If you do not have a pizza or baking stone, preheat the oven, place an inverted baking sheet on the rack, and heat the baking sheet for 5 minutes.) *if you punch the dough down an extra time, wait for it to finish rising the second time before doing this step.

Meanwhile, punch down the dough. Divide equally into 8 pieces, and roll the pieces into balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. (*I will usually punch down the dough and let it rise one more time in the bowl, then punch it down and divide it).

On a very lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough into a thin round, about 8 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch think. Spray the stone or baking sheet with a mist of water, wait 30 seconds, then place as many dough rounds as will fit without touching each other directly on the hot surface. Bake until the dough rounds puff into balloons, about 3 minutes (seriously – only about 3 – 5 minutes. Pitas are thin and do not require much baking time), then bake 30 seconds longer and immediately remove the breads to a rack to cool. If you leave the breads in the oven too long, they will become dry and will not deflate to flat disks. Bake the remaining rounds.

Rah Rah Sisk Boom Bah!

Ever have one of those days when you can’t seem to get something silly out of your head? I have cheerleaders in my head right now. I don’t know why.

On to other things. I’ve been doing better with my exercising this week. I forgot to post about it with the trauma of the dog incident. I’ve only run once, so far (on Monday), I did cardio and some weights on Wednesday. I am going to go running again tomorrow morning. I’m actually looking forward to it. I thought I did terrible the other day, but according to MapMyRun, I ran 1.8 miles. Not too shabby for having taken too long of a break. I don’t even have anything near a good excuse for a break. It just happened. I feel good about what I have done so far this week. I will probably do more next week if Nana B. can watch Sammi for me. I can’t seem to get many classes in at the gym. He starts crying and nothing the daycare ladies do will console him. Actually, I would be happy to get in just 30 minutes of cardio and weights.

With school starting up, new gym class schedules, and Sammi’s therapy on hold (insurance pending crap), I have revised my workout schedule. Here is a tentative list of my Fall exercises:

Sunday: Swimming
Monday: Run
Tuesday: 9:20 BodyVive class
Wednesday: Cardio + Weights
Thursday: Run + 10:30 Yoga class
Friday: 9:20 BodyPump class
Saturday: Run

I am taking it easy on the classes. I am such a wimp right now. Once I get in better shape, I will add in BodyCombat and maybe I will even brave my sister-in-law’s BodyStep class. BodyStep scares me more than any other class. Zumba comes in close, but at least I will not fall off of a step in Zumba. In fact, in October, I may start to take the Beginner Zumba class at 10:25 and take Power Yoga at 10:30 on Fridays (Power Yoga starts in October). Depending on how wimpy I still am, I may be switching my schedule up at that time, or I may just keep the BodyPump class on Friday and do the Power Yoga afterwards. We shall see.

To thank my neighbors for helping out with the dreaded dog incident mentioned above, I baked my famous Druid Bread as a “Thank You.” It went over very well.

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.

Druid Bread

Ingredients

  • ¾ Cup lukewarm water
  • 1 Tbsp Yeast (I leave it rounded)
  • 1 ½ Cup All Purpose Flour
  • ½ Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • ½ Cup Steel-Cut Oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 Cup honey

(makes one loaf)

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

While yeast is sitting, mix dry ingredients together. Pour in honey and yeast Mix together, then knead for 5 – 10 minutes.

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.

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.

King Arthur Flour Company Super Bread

This has been one of my favorite bread recipes. I’ve tried it a few times and only had it fail once due to old flour. This comes from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook:

Super Bread

When days have begun to shrink and you’re up and off before the dark and chill have really let go, you begin to think of how to pack some warmth into breakfast and lunch, some that will fire your engines and keep them running all day.  Here’s how to pack all this into a loaf of Super Bread.  (This recipe was developed by Brinna Sands when she was in her “bread as the ONLY staff of life” phase.)

When you make bread with milk as the liquid, you will create something that gives you two kinds of energy.  The first is protein.  Whole proteins are divided up into lots of little parts.  Wheat has some of those parts and milk has others.  When you put them together, you make a protein as complete as any you find in meat but with vegetable fiber replacing the fat.  Everybody needs some protein.  If you are growing you need a lot.  Protein helps you develop a healthy body as you grow and it also provides a form of energy that burns long and slow.

The second kind of energy comes from carbohydrates in the wheat itself.  Carbohydrates burn hotter and faster than protein and provide you with a “jump start” and the “overdrive” you need to breeze through a busy day.  We all need more of this second kind of energy, especially when we’re very active.

What else can you add to make this a really SUPER bread?  An egg or two will boost the protein.  Stone ground wheat flour substituted for some unbleached white adds extra vitamins, fiber, and heartiness.  Soy flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, wheat germ and bran, available at your local market or health food store, create variety and extra nutritional wallop.  Dark, unsulfured or blackstrap molasses as the sweetener adds iron and an irresistible flavor, and helps the bread retain moisture or freshness.

Because the bread contains essentially no fat, you will find that it gives you a maximum amount of energy with a minimum number of calories; it will satisfy your hunger, provide excellent nutrition, plus, if you’ve ever made a loaf of bread, you know what that will do for you.  No wonder bread is called the staff of life.  The flavor of this bread is developed by making a sponge, so read through the recipe first to plan your timing.

2 cups liquid (this can include 2 eggs which count as a liquid)

1 to 4 tablespoons sugar (white or brown), honey, or molasses

1 tablespoon or packet dry active yeast

¾ cup nonfat dry milk (optional, but increases the protein)

1 to 1 ½ cups of the following, your choice: cracked wheat; oatmeal, steel-cut oats, triticale; wheat, barley, rye or other flakes; cornmeal; wheat germ; wheat or oat bran, soy flour, etc.  You can also use a blend of these,  (If you’re using soy flour, start with ½ cup and increase the amount next time if you like the flavor.)

2 cups King Arthur Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour

1 tablespoon salt (or less if desired)

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

The total amount of flour you need will vary.  To produce a loaf with good volume, use at least 4 ½ to 5 cups of wheat flour, either unbleached or stone ground whole wheat.  Wheat is the only grain that contains gluten, the amazing protein that causes a dough to capture carbon dioxide bubble produced by the yeast, which creates the “rise.”  The other 1 to 1 ½ cups can be a combination of any of the dry ingredients mentioned.

Making the Sponge:  Dissolve the sweetener and yeast in your liquid.  (When measuring your liquid, keep in mind that if you’re planning on adding eggs, each one counts as about ¼ cup, so subtract that amount from the total liquid.  Don’t add the eggs to the sponge.)  Stir in the dry milk, any whole grains, and the whole wheat flour.

Cover your sponge with plastic wrap and let it sit in a cool place for anywhere from 1 to 12 hours.

Making the Dough:  Stir down the sponge, add the salt and beat in the eggs (if you choose to add them).

Stir in the remainder of your flour, except for ½ cup, which you’ll sprinkle on your kneading board.  (If you use a liquid sweetener, such as honey or molasses, you will need to use a slightly smaller percentage of liquid or a bit more flour.)

When your dough begins to hold together and pull away from the sides of the bowl, turn the dough out onto the floured kneading board.

Kneading:  Turn the dough out onto the floured board, and knead until it begins to feel as if it belongs together, about 3 or 4 minutes, adding only enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you.  Let it rest while you clean and grease your bowl.  Continue kneading the relaxed dough until it feels smooth and springy, another 3 or 4 minutes.

Rising:  Form the dough into a nice ball; place it in the greased bowl, turning it so the top is lightly greased also.  Cover it and put it where it will be warm and cozy (no drafts).  Let this rise until it has doubled (when you can poke your finger in it and the dough doesn’t spring back at you).

Shaping:  Punch or knock the dough down, turn it out onto you floured board and knead out any stray bubbles.

Cut it in half, form 2 loaves, and place them in two lightly greased bread pans (4 ½ x 8 ½-inch pans make high, well-rounded loaves; 5 x 9-inch pans will make shorter, wider loaves)

Baking:  With either of the following methods, the longer baking time produces crustier bread with a slightly drier interior.

  • Full Rise.  Let the loaves rise until they are doubled (about an hour).  About 15 minutes before you want to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Place the loaves in the preheated oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes.  This method makes the lightest loaves.
  • Partial Rise.  Let the loaves rise for only 30 to 40 minutes.  Place them in a cold oven, set the temperature to 400˚F for 15 minutes and lower it to 350˚ for a further 20 to 25 minutes.  This method takes a little less time from beginning to end and avoids the possibility of the bread dough rising too far and then collapsing.  The bread itself won’t be quite as light, but it will still be very good.

 Storing:  Once the bread is out of the oven and cool, wrap it in an airtight plastic bag.  You can freeze it at this point and it will be “oven fresh” when you thaw it to fire up another day.

There isn’t much you can buy commercially that can compare with a loaf of the Super Bread you make at home.  Once you’ve experimented a dew times, you’ll find combinations that you or your family particularly like and maybe some they don’t.  (The rather large amount of brewer’s yeast added to one batch several years ago didn’t get past the kids.)  You will discover that you can get an amazing amount of nutrition into an amazingly tasty loaf of bread.

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