Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Maybe I should call this "Julie is Human, Part 2" because this seems to be one of those weeks where even tried and true things are going wrong.
Like I said yesterday, I've been baking my own bread lately from a really great recipe in "Feeding the Whole Family" by Cynthia Lair. Yesterday I got the starter dough ready and today I baked the loaves. Honestly, I've had such poor luck with yeasted items in the past that now I put in a little extra yeast just to make sure they rise. But today my kitchen must have been warmer than usual or something because the usual 1-2 hour rising time flew by in about 45 minutes.
I punched down my dough and separated it, shaping into loaves to rise again in the pan. The dough raced to the top of the pans in only about 15 minutes! Wow...I'd better get those babies into the oven to stop the balloon of dough...
So in they went for about 45 minutes. After 10 minutes, I noticed how enormous they were getting. Good thing the oven would be killing off the rising action of the yeast any minute now.
But, no, they just kept rising and rising. The slit I had cut into the top to prevent an ugly split on the side metamorphosed into a giant canyon. They ended up looking like they'd grown giant tumors. (I know, not very appetizing, sorry)
Disappointment threatened...until I tasted the fantastic bread I had created. Ugly though it may be, it was light and soft and sweet! I shaved off the offending bulges with my knife, spread on a little butter and ate bread for lunch.
Here's a photo of a couple of loaves I made the other day...notice how nicely shaped these were!
Homemade Whole Grain Bread
Ingredients (Starter Dough):
2 cups cooked whole grains (anything from brown rice, quinoa, steel-cut oats, millet, etc.)
2 cups water
1/2 cup cold-pressed vegetable oil (I use olive)
1 TB sea salt
1 TB dry yeast (I use 3-4 packages just to be safe)
1 cup whole wheat flour
Blend grains and water in a blender until creamy; pour into a large bowl. Mix in oil, salt, and yeast. Add the flour and stir. Cover the bowl and leave for 12-24 hours at room temperature. Once the dough is fermented, it can be refrigerated for up to a week before using for the bread if necessary.
To Make the Bread:
1/4 cup sweetener (barley malt, maple syrup, honey, molasses, brown rice syrup, etc.)
2 cups whole wheat flour
3-4 cups unbleached white bread flour
After the 12-24 hours, add sweetener to starter dough and stir. Add whole wheat flour and stir. As you add the white flour, the mixture will be too difficult to stir. Knead it by hand in the bowl. When it is less sticky, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead 10-15 minutes more until it is soft and springy. Wash and dry bowl; oil it. Place dough in bowl, cover and let rise until doubled (1-2 hours).
To Make the Loaves:
Lightly oil 2 loaf pans. Divide dough in half. Punch down. Flatten the dough into a square, pressing all the air out by slapping it vigorously. Fold the dough into a triangle and press it down again. Fold 2 corners into the center and press again. Fold the top point into the body of the dough and press again.
Pick up the dough with both hands and begin rolling it into itself. Seal the seam by flattening it with the heel of your hand. Shape it into a nice loaf and place in the pan, seam side down. Repeat with other half of dough.
Cover and let rise until doubled in size (45-60 minutes). Coat the top of each loaf with this mixture...
1 tsp water
1 tsp sweetener
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. Let cook 5 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a wire wrack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before cutting into it!