April 27, 2011 by Darlene McC
Finally, food week is coming to a close. It ended with me baking my own bread for the very first time.
In addition to reading Skinny Bitch I also picked up a copy of Micheal Pollar’s Food Rules; and both advocate whole grains heavily. They elaborate on how refined sugars and flours mess with our blood sugar because we metabolize them too quickly and how our bodies evolved to break down whole grains and metabolize them slowly. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to make my own bread for a little while and see how I feel not eating processed grains. I found this to be very difficult.
I’m having a hard time finding a bread recipe that doesn’t call for any refined flour. This is because yeast rises better with processed grains… okay, compromise. Most whole grain breads now a days are made with half whole wheat flour, half bleached. Alright, so I opted to begin my bread adventure with a modified Joy of Cooking recipe.
“The Joy”, as we call it in my house, suggests substituting no more than 1/2 the base white flour with white – so I did this:
(Modified) Fast Bread Recipe
Activate yeast by adding it to hot water and 2/3 tablespoon Agave nectar (substitution for white sugar) and letting stand until dissolved
Stir together in large bowl:
1 cup flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
Add to dry mixture:
2 tablespoons melted butter
Mix by hand for 1 minute. Gradually add 1/4 cup of regular flour at a time until the dough is moist but not sticky (no more than 1 cup… I used about 3/4 cup). Knead for about 10 minutes by hand (obviously, any of this mixing can be done with a mixer…). Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn over once to coat with oil. Cover loosely and let rise for about 45 min (until it’s doubled itself).
Grease a 6-cup loaf pan. Punch down your dough and form into a loaf with the seam on the bottom. Cover this loosely and let rise again until it’s doubled itself. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake for 10 min at 450, then decrease the heat to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes. Check that it’s done by tapping the bottom, it’ll sound hollow if it’s finished.
One of my best friends (and the editor of my novel), Jenne, has been a baker for almost as long as I’ve known her and I remember watching her tap bread and thinking “wow… how does she just know“. Having watched her do it came in handy. These loaves turned out great. They’re pretty dense, but I like a dense bread so that’s a’ok with me. I’m planning to make more this weekend ~ there was something truly satisfying about cutting into them all week instead of opening a plastic bag.