December 21, 2009

Homemade Bread - Snow Storm baking

Mother Nature came along and dumped about 2 feet of snow on us in Baltimore this weekend. And I loved every second of it! Well, okay, I didn't love going out to walk the dog (friend's dog that I was watching this weekend) at 7AM, but aside from that...I loved it.

My favorite part of a snow storm is the absolute silence. You can actually hear the silence, it's so all-encompassing. To me, it's a profound and calming sense of solitude that comes with standing outside in the snow. If you live in an area with snow, you know what I mean. I can't explain it any better than that. Next time you have a snow storm (and I mean more than just 2 inches), go stand outside and just listen.

Snow storms also inspire me to bake. I decided to finally try my hand at homemade bread, since I've never done it before. I wanted something fresh to go along with a batch of Cumin Lentil soup I made, so I googled around until I found one I could make with my limited pantry supplies.

I don't think it turned out too badly for a first attempt! I think my yeast was past its prime, so the dough didn't rise as quickly as I had hoped. The overall loaf was tasty and fresh, but a little dense. That might be the nature of homemade whole wheat bread - or possibly because I didn't knead it correctly. But I do know that a hot slice of freshly baked bread slathered in butter (okay, SmartBalance) certainly made my day.

adapted from
3 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1 cup warm water
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 packet of dry yeast

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast with the water, and stir to dissolve. Mix in the milk, honey, oil and salt. Mix in the flour and stir until the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl. (I tried to use my kitchenaid with the dough hook at this point and it didn't work out so well. I've never used it before so I didn't exactly know what I was doing.)

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-10 minutes, until it becomes smooth.
Place a small amount of oil in a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl and flip the dough to ensure that it's thorougly coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise for approx. 1 hour. It should double in size. Note: This made take longer if the room is cold.

Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a 8 inches log and place into a lightly grease loaf pan. Loosely cover the pan with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 30 to 60 minutes, until it rises approx.1 inch above the top of the pan. Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the pan in center of oven and bake for about 40 minutes, total. After the first 20 minutes, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. You can test if the wheat bread is done by thumping the bottom of the bread. When it's done, it should sound hollow. Allow to cool and then slice. Or be like me and slice off the end when it's steaming hot.


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We don't get snow here, so the thought kind of scares me. I'd be inspired by the cold to bake too, and this bread looks wonderful.