Monday, August 1, 2011

Homemade Bread

Homemade Honey-Oat Bread
Failure, I call it "pac-man bread"
About a year ago I was talking to a friend and she was telling me about how her sister lives in Hawaii and because things are so expensive over there she makes her own bread.  I was fascinated.  People actually still make their own bread???  Sure I've done it before for special occasions, but on a regular basis??? "That must be too much work," I scoffed.  Then I did a little research....turns out a lot of people out there do it!  Turns out....its not even that hard!  So for over a year now I've been experimenting with making my own bread.  I've had quite a few failures....

But, I've finally landed on a good and healthy recipe.  I decided to share:

Honey-Oat Bread
This is what the pros use!

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups white bread flour
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (optional)
  • 4 tbsp oat bran/oats/wheat bran/wheat germ
  • 1&1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup of low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable/safflower oil
  • 2 tbsp honey (local honey is the best)!
  • Egg for brushing
  • Oats for coating

My favorite brands to use
Dough Hook
  • Mix together the flours, salt, yeast, wheat gluten (if using), and bran in the bowel of an electric mixer 
  • Make a well in the center and add the water, yogurt, oil and honey
  • Using a dough hook (or feel free to mix by hand) mix together on medium speed till dough starts to leave the sides of the bowel
  • Switch mixer to a little higher speed and mix on this speed for about 8 minutes (this mimics the kneading process, again you can do this by hand)
  • The dough should come together to form a nice clump that can be shaped easily. Slacker (wetter) doughs will rise more but are harder to work with.  If you feel your dough is too wet, then add a tablespoon of flour at a time till it comes to the consistency you want.  If you feel your dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time.  
  • Brush another bowel with oil.  Remove dough from mixer and shape into a ball.  Place ball in oiled bowel and cover with a damp dishcloth.
  • Allow dough to rise for 1-2 hours.  
  • After rising, turn the dough out onto a slightly floured surface and knead for1-2 minutes by hand
  •  Rest the dough for 5 minutes
  • Shape the dough as desired (a boule or log is the easiest)
  • Once shaped, place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, cover with a damp towel and allow to rest 1 more hour
  • Towards the end of resting period, pre-heat oven to 425 F with a baking stone placed in the oven (if you have one)
  • If desired, make an egg-wash by beating an egg and mixing it with a little water.  Then use this to brush onto your bread.  That will give it a nice shiny appearance.  You can also use plain water if desired. Then sprinkled some loose oats over the top of the bread.
  • Use the parchment paper as a "sling" to transfer the dough to the oven and onto the baking stone (no need to remove the parchment paper).  If you don't have a baking stone a cookies sheet will do.
  • Throw a couple of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven (to create steam) and allow bread to bake for about 35-45 minutes
  • Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  
I know this seems like a lot of work but you'll get the hang of it and once you do it will be a cinch.  This recipe makes one LARGE loaf or two smaller loaves.  This has become our go-to bread for sandwiches and toast.  As you get to play around with the recipe you'll realize there are lots of opportunities for variations.  I'd love to hear your ideas!

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