But luckily that wasn't the end of bread baking for me. I found a simple recipe for whole wheat bread from Gourmet, made that and ended up thinking that maybe baking bread doesn't have to be so intimidating after all. Of course there can be a lot of complexity to it if you so desire, but it can also be fairly simple and very do-able (sp?).
I've been wanting to delve back into it for awhile and last night after a disappointing paper grade, a food sample binge at whole foods and a cocktail, I decided it was time. At first I wanted to make this recipe for honey wheat bread but because of the long pre-ferment and my aforementioned lack of patience I decided to use this one from Martha Stewart instead.
And now I must say that Martha Stewart is no bread baker. While the final product turned out well, there was a definite problem along the way. Her flour measurement was completely off, which resulted in this (see below) sticky, doughy, difficult to work with hand. Humph.
I halved the recipe in order to make only one loaf because I thought having two around would probably result in a "this is going to go bad soon so I have to eat it carb overload," but I am pretty positive I didn't mess up any of the measurements and I used about 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup more flour than the recipe called for (so if you were making the whole recipe that would be 1- 1 1/2 cups more!). Also even though I did this it was still fairly sticky but I didn't want to add too much flour and ruin the recipe.
Anyway the final product ended up tasting pretty delicious. It's doughy and thick with a hint of sweetness and tastes great toasted. Today I had a slice with half peanut butter, half almond butter and maple syrup poured on top. Really really good idea.
Some changes I made are: putting a pan of water on the rack below the bread so that a nice crusty crust forms, fermenting the yeast for longer in the hope of extra flavor development, (although I don't really know if it changed anything or not) and sprinkling some poppy and flax seeds over the top.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
3 1/2 cups warm water, 100 degrees to 110 degrees
3 tablespoons honey
2 packets active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons salt
Canola oil, for bowls, plastic wrap, and pans
Combine warm water, honey, and yeast in a large liquid-measuring cup. Stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together 3 1/2 cups of the bread flour, the whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually drawing in the flour until well combined.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead in the remaining 1/2 cup bread flour a little at a time until dough is smooth and elastic, 10 to 15 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Transfer to a warm place, and let rise until double its original size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Brush two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with canola oil. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and punch down. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Flatten one piece of dough into an oval, and roll up lengthwise. Place the roll, seam-side down, into a prepared pan. Repeat process with second piece. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Place the loaves in a warm place, and let rise again until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
Bake until deep golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes (the loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom). Transfer pans to a rack, and let cool 5 minutes. Invert the loaves onto the rack to cool completely.