Homemade Bread

DSC_2282I love to make homemade bread each week for my family. But, it used to take me all day.  I’d start early Sunday morning and by the end of the day we’d have 3 loaves of delicious, fresh bread for the week. The only problem is that the bread is so much tastier the first couple of days. Yes, we froze the loaves we weren’t using immediately, but there is nothing better than bread right out of the oven. The smell of baking bread permeates the house and helps create a warm and inviting home. It delights your senses and taste buds.

Awhile back I discovered the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois. The basic idea is that you can mix your ingredients all at once in a single container, let it sit for two hours and then shape and bake your bread. No kneading required! Simply take out a piece of dough, bake the amount you need and refrigerate the rest. Your dough can rest in your fridge for up to a couple of weeks. Then take a piece of dough out when you need it and have fresh bread that day. Genius!

So far, I’ve only made the The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf). It is made with only 5 ingredients and is easy to handle and the authors of the book recommend that you become familiar with that recipe before moving on.

Today, however, I’ve graduated to the Light Whole Wheat Bread. It is touted as “a versatile and healthy light wheat bread for sandwiches, appetizers and snacks.”

Light Whole Wheat Bread

Makes four 1-pound loaves. (I like to make my loaves a bit bigger and generally only get 3 loaves per recipe.)

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • whole wheat flour for the pizza peel
  1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
  2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with a dough hook attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you are not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
  3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
  4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days.
  5. On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece. Dust the piece with flour and shape quickly into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom of all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.
  6. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.
  7. Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, “scallop,” or tick-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before eating.
  8. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly shut the oven door. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until deeply brown and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
  9. Allow to cool before slicing and eating.

The bread turned out light, airy, hearty, but not overwhelmingly so, and delicious!

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