December 7, 2010

Sara’s Whole Wheat Bread for Her Brood {Naptime Tales from the Trenches}

Homemade Bread

Sara and her husband live in St. Paul, Minnesota with their two daughters, ages 6 and 4.  When her first daughter was born Sara traded in her days as a social worker to stay at home, and began cooking during naptime. In fact, although the girls are a little older (one of them still naps) Sara still uses this time to her benefit, tackling loads of laundry, paying bills and cleaning – in addition to cooking! We share the sentiment that sometimes naptime isn’t nearly enough time to get it all done! One of her favorite recipes to fit into family life is this amazing bread. She has worked out how to fit each step into an open window during her day. The result is perfect loaf every time!

In December of 2008, my husband gave me a gift that changed my life.  I am not referring to the birth of my daughters, then ages 3 and 1.  I am referring to a book.  A cookbook.  My husband gave me Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The discovery that revolutionizes home baking.  I had been struggling to bake homemade bread for months, with minimal success.  Once I came across this book, I became a confident baker of bread.  A whole new world was opened to me!

ball on pizza peel

The bread I bake most often is the Light Whole Wheat Bread.  It is my favorite for the variety it offers.  I can use the dough to bake bread for sandwiches, pizza crust and even focaccia.

Making this bread is a two part process and requires me to plan ahead.  I typically make the dough one day, and bake it the next.  After I get my now 4 year year old down for her “quiet time” (sometimes it is not so quiet and I wonder what she is doing in her room) I mix the ingredients, which takes me 10 – 15 minutes.  I like to use King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose flour.  I mix the yeast, flour and salt using first a wooden spoon and then my wet hands.  No kneading is required.  I use Fleischmann’s rapid rise or quick rise yeast.  The authors state that the type of yeast you use is not important, you can use whatever you have available.

Once the dough is made, it needs to sit on the counter in a non-airtight container for two hours while the dough rises and collapses.  I find the dough is easier to work with if I first refrigerate it.  It can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, though mine never last more than a week.  From the amount of dough made, I can usually make 3 loaves of bread.

tic tac toe On the second day, I bring the dough out of the refrigerator, and give it a little time to warm up.  I separate a one pound piece of dough (roughly 1/3 – ¼ of the dough)  and shape it into a ball, stretching the dough and folding it underneath, and rotating it until a ball has been formed.  I add flour as necessary so that the dough does not stick to my hands.  The dough then must rest on a cornmeal covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.  If I don’t have cornmeal, I use whole what flour. The first time I made this bread, I think I used a cutting board.  As I made the bread more often, I purchased a pizza peel.

While the dough is resting, I preheat the oven to 450.  I place a baking stone on the top rack and a cookie sheet on the middle rack.  The original recipe calls for an empty broiler tray, but I found a cookie sheet works just as well and it was something I already had!

Before I put the loaf in the oven, I sprinkle it with flour and make a tic-tac-toe pattern on top.

When the loaf is ready to be put into the oven, I slide the loaf onto the top cookie sheet, then pour 1 cup of hot water into the bottom cookie sheet.  I quickly close the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

When my daughter comes down from her quiet time, the house smells wonderful.   Often I will serve a fresh loaf of bread with some homemade tomato soup for dinner.  Everyone is happy!

Recipe

Light Whole Wheat Bread

adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

Ingredients

3 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ tablespoons granulated yeast (1 ½ packets)
1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

whole wheat flour for the pizza peel

Instructions

1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5 quart bowl, or a lidded (non airtight) food container.

2.   Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook).  If you are not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

3.   Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4.   The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days.

5.   On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.

6.   Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empy broiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

7.   Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, “scallop”, or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.  Leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before eating.

8.   Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone.  Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm.  Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.

9.   Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

On cold winter days delicious bread calls for hot soup!

Naptime Stopwatch

2 days, with a lot of waiting time!!

Naptime Reviews

A family’s endorsement is always a sure thing!