Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Almost No-Work Whole Grain Bread
I've always been intimidated by baking my own bread. It just seems like something other people (aka master bread bakers) are good at and I should leave well enough alone. But the idea of making my own bread has always intrigued me (or terrified me that it would end up being a solid inedible brick or even worse, not rise at all and be dumped into the trash) so when I saw this recipe for Almost No-Work Whole Grain Bread, again from Mark Bittman's Food Matters, I thought...hey why not start here. It turned out to be the perfect starting place - easy (no kneading), unfussy, and tasty! Oh and you get the fun option to add something (nuts, seeds, dried fruit) to make it your own (I chose sesame seeds!). And yeah my loaf is a little bottom heavy but hey if you want a big sandwich slice from the bottom right - a little one, slice from the upper left.
Almost No-Work Whole Grain Bread:
3 cups whole wheat flour, or use 2 cups plus a combination of other whole grain flours like buckwheat, rye, or cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting (optional)
Up to 1 cup nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or proofed whole grains (I used sesame seeds!)
1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended, the dough should be quite wet and sticky but not liquid; add some more water if it seems dry. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for at least 12 and up to 24 hours. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Rising time will be shorter at warmer temperatures, or a bit longer if your kitchen is chilly.
2. Use some of the oil to grease the loaf pan. If you are adding nuts or anything else, fold them into the dough (aka sesame seeds!) now with your hands or a rubber spatula. Transfer the dough to the loaf pan, and use a rubber spatula gently to settle it in evenly. Brush the top with the remaining oil and sprinkle with cornmeal if you like (I sprinkled with leftover sesame seeds!). Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, an hour or two depending on the warmth of your kitchen. When it's almost ready, heat the oven to 350. *I baked mine right on a baking sheet, not in a loaf pan, only because I don't have a loaf pan!
3. Bake the bread until deep golden and hollow-sounding when tapped, about 45 minutes. Immediately turn out of the pan onto a rack and let it cool before slicing.
I served this bread at the Vegan Feast I made for us a couple weekends ago - on one of those weekends where you could sit out on the porch, with food and drink, all night long. Because I'm really missing Nick these days (architecture school has eaten him) and won't see him until Sunday night (it is Wednesday night now...) I have to share this story. So our Vegan Feast was followed by a very intense game of Cranium. Our team (the Waldmans) pulled a card and had to write on a piece of paper (separately) 3 things that we instantly thought of when we heard the word "beach" (in 30 seconds). You get a point for each word you write down that your teamate also writes down. So this is what our sheets looked like (mine is on the left & Nick's is on the right)....ahh shucks. I guess we are a good match or maybe it was just the bread!