In what I consider to be a massive movement towards a better understanding of what is in the food we eat, where it’s grown, and how it’s processed, I see more and more cooks opting to not only make their own breads, but to find local, organic sources for all of their foods and ingredients. This pleases me on several levels: I enjoy the challenge of the hunt, and I take great satisfaction in putting the best food on my table that I can find.
With the help of some beautiful bread books written by accomplished artisan bakers, artisan bread-making is being brought into home kitchens. And with so many delicious-looking breads popping up on blogs everywhere, I'm feeling the urge to knead again.
Having a professional stand mixer doesn't hurt either.
Even though ready to bake bread again, I was still not quite ready to tackle a dough starter and so began my journey with this recipe from my old Joy of Cooking, adapting it to my the-less-white-flour-and-the-more-whole-wheat-the-better standards.
And then I made a delightful mistake by adding a very large dollop of pomegranate molasses that I'd made last fall, instead of the black molasses that the recipe stipulated.
Well, they were both dark and they were both un-marked. And I really didn't think I had to stick my nose way into the container to see what I was using.
More to the point is it tastes really good in this bread. I do admit to adding the black molasses to the dough when I realized my mistake, but I just might make this particular mistake twice.
So here's my bread. This recipe makes two loaves. And in case you're wondering where my low-carb lifestyle has gone, bread made with whole wheat, nuts, seeds and whole grains is high in fiber and protein and is good for you. Just don't be a pig about it.
Molasses-Cereal Sandwich Bread
adapted from the Joy of Cooking
1 cup bulgar wheat
3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance Buttery Stick
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar, honey or Splenda-Sugar Blend
1 tablespoon molasses
3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 packages active dry yeast1/4 cup very warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
3 cups whole grain flour
Place the 3 cups water and the bulgar wheat (cracked wheat for making tabouli) in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn heat to medium-low and cook until the wheat is tender. There should still be some water in the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, salt, sugar, molasses and milk, stirring to blend. Pour mixture into the large bowl of your stand mixer and allow to cool.
In the 1/4 cup warm water, stir in the packets of active yeast and allow to dissolve for about 3 minutes.
Using the dough hook and with the stand mixer on low, stir the yeast into the cooked cereal mixture.
With the mixer running on medium-low, #2 on the dial, gradually add in the flours, allowing the dough hook to work its magic to incorporate it all together so quickly and easily. I do love this part.
Then when all the flour has been added, let the mixer do the kneading for about 5 more minutes, adjusting the speed as necessary.
Then dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead some more, about 10 minutes, adding flour only if the dough sticks, until the dough is satiny smooth and no longer sticks to the surface.
Place the ball of dough into a large buttered bowl. Turn the dough once to butter all sides then cover with a towel and place in a warm spot in your kitchen to let rise until doubled in bulk. This may take as long as 2 hours.
Gently punch the dough down and knead a few times to re-gather it.
With a dough scraper or a sharp knife, cut the ball into 2 equal pieces and shape* them to fit into two 5x9-inch, buttered bread pans.
Cover the pans with the towel and let the dough rise again until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Pre-heat an oven to 350-degrees, place the bread pans in the middle of the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the bread has a golden top and has pulled away just slightly from the sides of the pans.
You can also tip the bread out of a pan to check the bottom for doneness. If it seems sticky at all, put it back in the pan and bake for 5 minutes more. I've done this successfully many times.
And there you have it: Chewy, healthy bread with no preservatives, no dough conditioners, no high-fructose corn syrup, just the goodness you put into it yourself. I like that. And what better vehicle for your heirloom tomato sandwiches?
*To shape the loaves, using your hands, flatten each piece into a rectangle slightly longer than the length of the bread pan and 2 or 3 times the width. Beginning with a long side, roll the dough into a cylinder. Pinch the seam closed then tuck each end under and pinch those closed also. When you are finished it should fit nicely into the pan.
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