11.28.2010

Baking mama – weekly bread

Today was my weekly bread baking day. My mountain man has yogurt and toast for breakfast every morning, and we go through bread like you-know-what through a goose. Or like bread through a mountain man’s mouth.

Baking bread helps my family save money (we were spending $4-5 a loaf) as well as control what we eat – I know exactly what is going into this bread. I even use local butter, buttermilk, and honey. I could even make my own butter and buttermilk, if I really wanted to. And while I’m at it, I could keep bees and grow wheat…

Now I just need some land.

I start by dumping 3.75 cups AP flour, 2 tsp salt and 2.25 tsp rapid rise yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until just combined.DSC_1146 

Mix 3 tbsp honey, 1/3 cup water, 1 1/3 cup buttermilk, and 4 tbsp melted cooled butter. Heat the mix until it’s warm to the touch. Whisk everything together.DSC_1147

I have to confess, I don’t really measure all the liquid ingredients super carefully. I hate measuring. So I try to get as close as I can. If the dough is too thin, you can add a little flour when it’s mixing.

Slowly pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, with the mixer on low until combined. DSC_1152

Increase the speed to medium low and mix for 10 minutes. By 5 minutes the dough should be clearing the sides of the bowl but sticking to the bottom. Here’s where you can add some flour if your dough is too thin/sticky. Just add a tablespoon at a time.DSC_1153

Lightly flour a clean counter and knead for just a minute, until the dough is a smooth ball. DSC_1155

Oil the bowl of your mixer and put the dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and put it somewhere warm for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how warm your house is. Mine’s cold, so I put the dough on the heater vent, usually for about 90 minutes. The heater kicks on a couple of times during that period, warming up the bread enough to rise. I’ve also put the bowl in the oven with just the light on, but have had hit-and-miss luck with that strategy.DSC_1161

When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Punch it down a little. Form it into a rectangle the length of your bread pan, about 8.5 inches. DSC_1165

Roll it up and pinch the seam, and put it in an oiled bread pan, seam-side down. Cover with plastic wrap. OK, here’s the kicker. I smacked myself on the forehead when I read this on someone else’s blog - I think it was on The Frugal Girl. Use the same piece of plastic wrap that you used before. Seriously. Genius.

Smack.

Or of course, you can use a thin tea towel. When I do, I wet the towel with warm water and wring it out before using it in either step.DSC_1167

Let it rise again, for the same time as before.

Boil some water and preheat your oven to 350. Put boiling water in a pie pan or a second bread pan, about halfway up. I put both things on a cookie sheet, because if I don’t, I always forget to take the water out of the oven. And yes, that’s the crappy, rusted non-stick pie pan that’s been relegated to humidity duty.DSC_1140

By the way, when you you use the stove, you should keep an eye on which burner is hot. And not put things on it. DSC_1142

Let the bread cook for about 45 minutes, until an instant read thermometer hits 200 when inserted into the center of the bread. If you don’t have a thermometer, the bread should be browned on top and a knife inserted into the center should come out with just a few crumbs. DSC_1162

Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold the bread and let it cool for 2 hours on a wire rack. DSC_1128

I made two, and am freezing one by wrapping the completely cooled loaf rightly with tin foil and then putting it in a freezer-safe zip top bag. And the Frugal Girl would be happy to hear that I re-use the foil & bag. I like this bread, but I miss seedy bread. Do you have a favorite seed bread recipe?

Since I’m posting, I guess I can confess that I didn’t make it through a screen-free Sunday. But it’s not my fault! I let my mountain man take care of the Pie for a few minutes while I lounged in bed this morning, and when I pulled on my fleece pants to venture out of the bedroom and pour myself a cup of the coffee that he so kindly prepared, I found him. Sitting in the dark, at his desk, on the computer. He had forgotten that he had so intently decided last night that today would be screen-free. And if he got to cheat, so did I.

Another time, perhaps.

And thanks to Julie for snatching up the Anne Klein skirt, Rebecca for claiming the heels, and Katie for getting the DKNY sweater. They’re on the way!

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