Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Almost No Work Whole Wheat Bread

Using the recipe from Food Matters, I decided to make my own bread. In his efforts to make healthy eating simple for everyone, Mark Bittman has come up with a bread recipe that requires (as the title states) "almost no work." The ingredients are: whole wheat flour, salt, yeast, and water. Next time you are at the store, look at the ingredient list on the healthiest-looking sliced bread and see how many bad or unrecognizable ingredients there are. And while this bread took a lot of time, I spent most of that time sleeping and laying around watching TV. It was great.

At first I was a little nervous. I have active yeast and the recipe calls for instant yeast. I couldn't find "instant" in any store, so I just used the active yeast and it worked out fine in the end. The bread also had to rise for 14 to 24 hours. That is a pretty broad range. In the directions it says to look for bubbles on the surface. I didn't see what I would call "bubbles," but I saw lots of things that look like popped bubbles, and also lots of bumps, so I just went for it. I estimate this was about 15 or 16 hours. I kept it in my laundry room, covered of course, since it is the warmest place in my house.

I dusted the top with wheat bran as suggested in the recipe. When it came out of the oven it was dense and heavy. After it cooled, I sliced it up and put all the slices tightly back together like a commercial loaf of sliced bread. I wrapped it up tightly in a dishtowel and it is now sitting on my counter.

I tried an end piece of the bread and it was really delicious. The crust was really crunchy in the best way, and the inside was much more dense than a commercial sandwich bread, but I have a feeling it is going to be just as good. I am going to eat a lot of bread this week to try to figure out the best ways to use it - toast with some kind of spread, sandwich, panini, maybe french toast... then whatever is left over later in the week will be made into fresh bread crumbs.

It was really easy and kind of fun to make my own bread, and it really makes me happy to know that all the ingredients are good things and that it is 100% whole wheat, for real.

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