I think I was crazy for not doing it all these years. Or maybe, it's because the goals that I have set this year are just a little more realistic than the failed ones of the past.
Goal #1 - Learn how to bake bread.
Two weeks ago, I didn't know how to make a decent loaf of bread. Then last Thursday a good friend taught me and my girls how to do it. Since then, we have baked about 14 perfect loaves of the whole wheat variety (12 of which have already been eaten!) Thanks, Laura, I owe ya big time!
(This, of course, is the First loaf that I have baked that has had a hole in the middle...of course. Just means I needed to knead it a bit more....)
So, if you are a beginner at baking bread, or have never even tried, try it, you can do it! That's what I did, and now I am able to use the whole wheat that has been sitting in barrels in my basement (yes, 50 gallon barrels, 3 of them) for years!
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 TBS sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt
3/4 cup potato flakes (or pearls)
2 cups wheat flour
2 TBS shortening
3 TBS gluten
1 TBS fast-rising yeast
I just mix everything together in my 6 1/2 quart Kitchen Aid, using the paddle attachment.
Add one more cup of flour, white or wheat.
Once everything is mixed well, I switch to the dough hook.
Then start adding whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup at a time, til you've added around 4-5 additional cups. Dough is complete when it's "cleaning" the bottom of the bowl while it's mixing, and the dough no longer sticks to your finger when you poke it.
(Also, you can experiment with the wheat/white mix to get it just how you like it. We like it to be mostly wheat, so I start with 2 cups of white flour at the beginning of the recipe, and use just whole wheat flour to finish it. It takes a little less flour when you use a higher percentage of wheat flour, so mix carefully!)
Turn out onto floured surface.
Put a little olive oil into the bottom of a large bowl and place dough in and swish around and flip it over so that the top is coated with oil to prevent your dough from crusting.
Set in a warm place and cover with towel. Let rise for about 90 minutes.
Once it has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto floured surface. Cut into two pieces.
Knead to get the air bubbles out, but don't over-knead. Form into loaves and place in oiled bread pan. Let rise just until the dough reaches the top of the pan, about 30 min. It will continue to rise while it bakes.
Repeat previous step if you want. Another rising will make your bread taste a little less yeasty, which is how we like it.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
And ...what is the best bread baking tip that I learned ?
The best thing I learned was to only let the bread final rise in the pan to just the top. In the past, I would wait and wait until it rose to the size I thought the finished loaf should be....and then when I put it in the oven, it would just collapse because it had OVERrisen. (I was just LUCKY that this loaf didn't collapse!)
See, pretty basic, but well worth learning.
Thanks, Laura, for teaching me and letting me share your fantastic recipe.
New Year's Resolution #2?
What is it you ask?
I'm not going to give all the details yet, but I will tell you it also has to do with food. (And, for once, not necessarily anything to do with losing weight!)
What are your New Year's Resolutions?