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:
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.