Saturday, February 16, 2008

Homemade Bread

For many years, my dad baked bread on a near daily basis. With the help of his trusty bread machine, we had delicious and fresh bread for our daily sandwiches. My dad's whole wheat bread was really soft and tender on the inside, but still had some spring-yness to it. The crust was perfect--crispy, but thin enough to bite into with ease. At lunch, my sandwiches were the envy of my friends, who had no choice but to eat the plain old flavorless store bought white bread their parents procured or -worse- the cafeteria food.

When I went to college, I did not often have the luxury of fresh bread. It was nice to come home occasionally on the weekends and be able to eat my dad's bread. For breakfast, I'd have it was homemade bread with Nutella. For lunch, I'd eat it in jaffel/jaffle-form. It was a treat to be able to go home and enjoy homemade bread.

During my senior year, a good friend of mine started making his own bread. I was roommates with his girlfriend, and we lived across the street from each other therefore we ended up cooking and eating together frequently. It was always fun to go over and make fresh bread together. It would be devoured almost as soon as it came out of the oven.

I have a container of active dry yeast sitting in my fridge, hardly used. Thinking back to the days of my fond homemade bread memories, I decided I needed to make my own bread and put that yeast to use.

My bread was incredibly easy to make. No fancy equipment (i.e. bread machines or KitchenAid stand mixers) required.

1.5 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 T. honey
1.5 cups Whole Wheat flour
1.5 cups All Purpose flour
2 T. wheat gluten
1.5 tsp. kosher salt
2 T. olive oil

Mix the honey and warm water, then add the yeast. Stir until bubbly and yeast is mixed in.

Mix all dry ingredients into a bowl, then add the water-honey-yeast mixture. Next, add the olive oil.

When mixture starts to stick, remove from bowl and knead on a flat surface for up to ten minutes, or until it comes together well.

Place dough ball in a greased bowl (if using the same bowl, you may need to wash first in order to get any remaining dough/flour clumps off the sides). Cover with a tea towel and let sit in a warm spot for about half an hour, or until dough doubles in size.

Once doubled in size, remove dough from bowl and need a few more times, shaping dough into desired form. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, letting dough rest during this time.

When oven is heated, bake your bread for 40 minutes.

Next, enjoy how simple it is to make your own bread and how much more flavor your bread has compared to the store-bought kind.

I think this bread would be great with some Italian herbs for added flavor. Perhaps next time, I'll try being more creative!

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