Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cheaper, healthier bread

I spent all day last Wednesday with my friend who bakes bread professionally. She let me help her out for a day in exchange for giving me tons of bread making tips and advice. Based on this advice, I have improved my own bread making tremendously. In the Bushman household, we don't buy any store-bought bread. Ever. This is because it is fairly easy for me to plan ahead and make a bread supply enough for the four of us. It is also cheaper, healthier, and tastier than store bought bread.

Previously I'd told you about my no-fail bread recipe. After baking with my friend, I've made improvements by cutting out the sugar and oil completely out of our bread. This makes my new bread recipe even healthier and cheaper. I've also picked up some techniques that help my bread rise optimally and not be too dense. This means I can now easily make a very good bread that is 100% whole wheat, which is something I could not do before. Lastly, the techniques I've learned make my bread much more visually appealing than ever before. Allow me to walk you through my new, improved bread baking routine:

Put 2 1/4 cup warm water, 4 1/2 tsp yeast, 5 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt into a stand-up mixer and mix for about 5 minutes. Scrape the dough off the sides and mix again for another two minutes.

Flour your surface. Throw half the dough on the table and pat in an oblong flat shape like so:

This doesn't look oblong, but it should. :)

Fold down the top 1/3. (At every fold make sure you press firmly, getting rid of any bubbles.)

1st fold

Now make a point fold by folding each side of the top to create a triangle. Again, press down to seal and remove air bubbles.
2nd fold (triangle)

Fold it all completely over and seal with the heel of your hand all around the edge to remove air bubbles.

Last fold. As I press it I think of a smiling mouth.

Roll it over so that your crease/smiling mouth is now on the bottom. Cup your hands to shape it into a loaf and make it look nice and neat.

That smiling mouth/crease is now on the bottom where you can't see it.

Repeat for the second half of the dough. (One batch makes two loaves.)

Allow loaves to rise for thirty minutes to an hour. (If bread seems to collapse or gets super dimply, it has over-risen and you will need to refold and reshape it. This time only let it re-rise for about 10 minutes.) Wet the top of each loaf, all over and make three slash marks on it with a knife like this:

Put it on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 350 until it is toasty brown on top.

My 100% whole wheat beautiful loaf!

When you lift it up and look on the bottom it should be dark brown. It is better to overbake bread than underbake it.
The bottom of my loaf

You should let it cool for at least 15 minutes before you cut it. Otherwise, the middle can still seem doughy even when the bread is fully cooked.

And there you have it: all the great tips I learned from a day with a professional baker!

When I think of all that unnecessary white flour, sugar and oil I put in my bread I can't help but cringe a little. Still, this is what the frugal life (or any life, really) is all about, right? Live and learn.

Have you tried baking your own bread? How did/does it turn out? What do you put in your bread?

1 comment:

  1. Yes I've made cinnamon raisin loaves yummy!


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