Friends, I am EXCITED.
There was a new development in the Sweet + Natural kitchen last weekend that makes me so happy! I’m pleased, I’m proud, I’m itching to get back in there and do it again.
What on earth could bring such delight to my baking life?
I made my first loaf of homemade bread!
Wheeeee! Yep, we’re talking yeast, we’re talking kneading, we’re talking rising. And whole grains of course. I got in there with my electric hand mixer’s special hook and went at the dough until it was shiny and smooth. I waited patiently for hours until it doubled in size. I shaped the loaf. And I relished in the wheaty goodness that emerged from my oven. I am now legit, no?
This was such a fun accomplishment for me. Bread from scratch has been on my list-of-things-to-bake forever, but I’ve always made excuses to avoid making anything with yeast. It takes so long! What if something messed it up? Would my hours of effort be fruitless? I guess I just never had the patience – or extra time! – to devote a chunk of my day to an attempt. Well, I found myself with that extra time one afternoon and figured it was as good a chance as any to give it a go.
With this recipe and my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book (courtesy of Dan’s sister – thanks Kate!) by my side, I was ready to go.
Here’s the recipe I followed to make Walnut Molasses Whole Wheat Bread:
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons molasses
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix until moistened and combined. Cover dough, let rest for 20 minutes then knead until fairly smooth (I did this in the bowl with the dough hook of my electric hand mixer for about 15 minutes). Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk. Gently deflate the dough, shape into a log and place in an 8 x 4-inch bread pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 45 minutes, tenting loaf lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking.
It looks like real bread! And tastes like it too!
Let me tell you, I was thrilled to look in the oven halfway through baking and see a monstrously tall crust growing from the pan. It’s working! And I was even more thrilled when I cut into the loaf to reveal it’s crumby insides. It’s dense, but soft. Subtly sweet. And has a slight crunch when you get a walnut bite. It may not the prettiest looking thing – I like to think of it as “rustic” – but it’s mine all mine.
Have you ever baked bread from scratch? How’d it go for you?