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Week One – Oy!

Bring it on!

So how was my first week? Well it started out pretty good! This project was going to be fun and I was energized by the support everyone was giving me. I figured out a few meals we could make this week, wrote a list, and then headed to the co-op.

Less to buy – yea, a quick shopping trip! Since the grocery store is essentially my work, – even though I’m mostly in my office downtown – getting in and out fast after working a long day is a challenge.

Wait… less to buy? My list of meals for the week wasn’t very long, and a number of the meals were going to involve some more involved prep time before hand. You see, as a person who typically works 50+ hours a week I am a well experienced convenience shopper. My daily lunch decisions are made in the car on the way to the store, on the way to my office. Dinner often involves deciding which of our favorite restaurants we’re stopping at when we head out of work at 6:30 or later.

But this week was different… To start with, the dinner of steak fajitas was accompanied by some “interesting” looking home-made tortillas (sorry, Honey!), and the guacamole was served without salsa because we forgot we’d have to make that from scratch. My early morning time when I usually read email, catch up on Facebook and drink coffee, has been spent creatively – okay desperately – scrambling for something to make for lunch. I got home from work one night and made crackers while dinner was cooking. So far the crackers have been a snack, like chips. Last night I made bread (again) while dinner was cooking. I’m almost out of granola, which means I’ll have to either wake and bake tomorrow (no, not that), or make it after work tonight.

One thing that has gone well this week is the bread baking. I really love baking bread and before this week I’d refer to it as one of my hobbies. This recipe is pretty easy, even for a novice baker. It’s my version, adapted from the book “Great Whole Grain Breads” by Beatrice Ojakangas.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

(makes one loaf)

1 pkg. active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons from bulk)

1 cup warm water, 105-115°  (I always use purified water rather than tap water)

½ cup of non-fat dry milk powder

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup unbleached white flour (bread flour)

1 ½ to 2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 spray bottle filled with purified water

Heat the water in a microwave for about one minute. Add the dry milk powder to the warm water and blend it in with a whisk. In a separate bowl, add the dry yeast and blended warm milk and stir until the yeast dissolves. Immediately add in the honey and let it sit for five minutes until the yeast begins to bubble. Now add the salt, canola oil and white flour and mix with a whisk or blender until smooth. Slowly add in the whole-wheat flour about ½ a cup at a time, blending well with each addition. The dough will start to become stiff. Add only enough flour until it blends in and the dough is no longer sticky to touch.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and let it sit now for fifteen minutes (go wash the bowl while you wait). After fifteen minutes, knead the dough for about ten minutes. Set the timer if you need to, ten minutes can seem like a long time when kneading, but you need to do it if you want a bread that rises well. Take the bowl that you washed (see, you’ll be glad I noted that) and grease it with about one teaspoon of olive or canola oil. Add the dough to the bowl, turn it once to coat it with oil, and then cover with a towel and put in a warmer, less drafty place to rise for about 60 minutes.

Yes, that's my bread towel.

Now get out a bread pan and lightly coat it with oil. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. You’re going to feel like you just ruined your dough, but punching is good for it. Now take the dough and form it into an oval that will fit into your bread pan. Cover with a towel and let it rise for another 45-60 minutes. Set the oven at 375° and when your dough has risen slightly over the top of the pan, it’s time to bake. Put the bread into the oven and spray the top of the bread with water (just about 3-4 spritzes). Set your timer for 30 minutes. After it has been baking for only five minutes, spray the top of the bread with water again, and then once more in another five minutes. This is going to get you a nice brown crust. Remove the bread from the oven after 25-30 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool. The bread will be done if it sounds “hollow” when you tap it.

Ta da!

When it cools, enjoy it with butter because if you’re me and you want to have some jam, you’re going to have to make it first!


About outpostcoop

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12 responses

  1. Just little ole me

    This bread is wonderful. Perfect for sandwiches. Great with eggs in the morning. Trust me, I know 🙂

  2. Admire your pursuit and appreciate your commitment to simplicity, sustainability, and local real food.

    Thought I’d share my favorite no-knead bread recipe for the days when you want the food to do some of the work for you…

    3 cups organic all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
    ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
    1¼ teaspoons salt
    Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

    1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

    2. You know the dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

    3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when you poke it with your finger.

    4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats[I love my big round enamel-coated dutch oven with the heavy lid]. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

    Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

  3. Nice looking groceries! Hmmmm….non fat dry milk powder in the bread? Shouldn’t you just be using a bit of milk? I’m just sayin’… . OTOH, no jam unless you make it yourself??? Oh, no!!! At least berries will be coming into season soon and you can make enough jam to get you through the next year. Maybe. 😉

    • Yea, I had milk in the fridge, dried milk in the pantry. A lot of hearth breads call for dry milk powder. Not sure if or why it would make a difference?

  4. The milk proteins add tenderness to the finished loaf and increase the protein content. You can leave it out completely without noticing much, if any, difference in the finished product. BTW–I also do the no-knead bread thing and it is blessedly easy and forgiving of what time you can get to it! I find the fermentation takes much longer in winter when the house is cold than in summer. It will also be quicker if a storm is coming and the barometric pressure is low.

    You are doing great! The learning curve is steep at first, huh?

  5. You should start a magazine called “Bread Beautiful”!! Say…don’t I live just a stone’s—er, loaf’s–throw from you? Imagine how happy I would be to find some home baked bread with my morning paper some day. 🙂

  6. Diane Schieffer

    Loved the picture of that beautiful loaf of bread! I could smell it. And love your bread towel too! Don’t you have to milk a cow to get milk and then dry it til it’s powdered?!!?

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  8. I love it that you’re tackling this project. You get big kudos for trying to keep it real while working a demanding job at the same time — cuz it’s not easy!!

    No knead bread is definitely a great solution for busy lives, so I’d highly recommend going that route. THe starter can also be used for many other things — like pizza dough, rolls, and the like… so it makes it doubly worth your while.

    We’ll be rooting for you! Can’t wait to see what you get yourself into next week.

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