Friday, March 30, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread

Eating locally means more than just buying fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers markets every week.  It requires thought and planning to maintain a local diet, especially in the week.  Eating local meat and eggs can be expensive, so it's worth conserving in other areas in order to get the best product.  Bread is one of those essential parts of a diet that can save a lot of money and it's better!  Bread and I have had our ups and downs.  We sometimes get along.  Don't misunderstand me.  I love bread.  I can't imagine my life without it.  But that also means that I feel obligated to make my own.  It is so much cheaper to buy a $3 bag of flour and make it from scratch.  I am hoping to find local flour as soon as I can, but for now, making it from the store bought flour will have to do.

I mentioned before that bread and I have had our ups and downs.  The reason for that is because I am only just getting the hang of making it.  But Mark Bittman once again is a genius and his recipe for Real Whole Wheat Bread is not only delicious, but it's easy.  I can do that.  This for me is a weekend task right before bed on a Saturday night because it needs to rise for 12 - 24 hours.  All you have to do is combine 3 cups of flour with, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of yeast, and 1 1/2 cups of water and stir until it becomes a wet, thick batter.  Cover with saran wrap  and let rise in a warm place for 12 - 24 hours until the surface is covered in bubbles.

For the last year I have had an admittedly stubborn mental block re yeast.  It's unnecessary and I get that now, but hey, at least I recognize that I have a problem.  So the trick for yeast is this: buy the kind that you refrigerate.  Ten minutes before you're going to make your bread take out however much you need and let it come to room temperature.  Then before you add the yeast to the flour, let it bloom in the water that you're going to add to the flour for about 5 minutes.

When you wake up Sunday morning, it will be bubbly and beautiful.  Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with olive oil and gently put the dough in the pan.  Brush with olive oil and cover with a towel (I wet mine) let it rise until it has doubled in size.

This will take between 1 and 2 hours.  Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Bake for about 45 minutes.  The bread will be a deep brown and sound hollow when you knock on it.  Let cool on a wire rack.

Now you have a beautiful, preservative-free loaf of bread that is a canvas for the week ahead of you.

This is a favorite snack of ours.  The honeycrisp apples and the sharp white cheddar cheese are gorgeous specimens from the farmers market, and the honey is from Ian's family's property in Wisconsin.

To me, this is a local meal.  Maybe the flour isn't from a nearby farm, but I have made the attempt at making the bread myself.  And while I must admit that this recipe couldn't be simpler (no-knead, areyoukidding), I am still very proud that I was actually able to make a successful loaf of homemade whole wheat bread!

Real Whole Wheat Bread by Mark Bittman

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
olive oil