Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Big Old Loaf Of Wheat Bread

You can of course, make two standard sized loaves-but where's the excitement in that? The boys get tired of the same old sourdough boule (yeah, I know-how the poor dears suffer with all that home-baked sourdough), so I treat them to a yeast-risen loaf once in a while. Not to worry though, I have a sponge bubbling away on the counter (I have no idea if it is bubbling, "happily" though people always equate that with being productive. I'm rather productive in my daily tasks, but I wouldn't say I do them, "happily", then again I'm not a sourdough starter-I'm a dour middle aged woman) that will soon be transformed into my standard sourdough boule. It makes me feel powerful to force my family into having the bread I think they should have, rather than the bread they want. That's a nod to my Ukrainian heritage (the telling you what's best for you part, not the boule because we all know it would be a ryebread in that case). Anyway, I tossed them some soft bread today as I was feeling generous and had some milk approaching the "use by" date.

You Will Need:

2 cups milk, scalded
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 cup warm water
3 teaspoons active dry (not instant) yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour
1-2 cups bread flour (strong flour)

Warm the milk with the butter. About the point where the butter melts, take it off the stove and cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, proof the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of the sugar.

Combine milk mixture with yeast, and add salt. Add the whole wheat first so that it is all incorporated. I do this with a wooden spoon and my big, muscular, Ukrainian peasant arms. Those of Western European heritage may prefer a stand mixer. Anyway, get the whole wheat in first, then slowly add the strong flour until you have a dough you can work that isn't too sticky. Then, turn it out onto a board, and go wash the bowl. The dough will firm up in the five minutes it takes to do the dishes. You might as well butter the clean bowl now, since you're standing around waiting for the bread to do whatever it is that bread does to develop gluten.

OK, so we have a clean bowl-go knead your bread. See? It formed up, didn't it? When the dough seems smooth (or smooth enough) plop it in the bowl, give it a turn and cover it with cling film. Leave it rise in a warm place for a couple hours or until it doubles. Gently de-gas the dough and shape into a loaf or two. Place in a very well-buttered pan(s) and let rise again until almost doubled (about an hour). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

The bread should get baked about 35-40 minutes, but give it a rotation in the oven at 20 minutes just to be sure it bakes evenly. I baked mine to an internal temperature of 195 degrees F. which is much less than I would do for most breads, but this one should remain soft inside. Cool on a rack.

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