A Bread Recipe
Henry Pope, learning patience
The bread makes a 2+ lb loaf baked in a 9.25” x 5.25” x 2.75” pan.
1. The sponge:
Combine in a bread bowl:
2 Cups water (use a bit more to ensure a big loaf)
1 Cup white flower
1 Tb honey
1 pckg yeast (I use Hodgins which has a little more than the standard pckg; recommended)
Let the mix percolate for an hour or so.
2. The loaf:
Add to the above:
A slosh of olive oil (a generous Table Spoon)
A bit of salt (the next ingredient has some salt in it)
And stir to mix
Add 1 Cup Red Mill 10 Grain bread mix (somewhat optional)
Stir to mix
3 Cups Arrowhead Mills organic Spelt flour
Mix by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook when the dough becomes too hard to mix
Add whole wheat flower, maybe another ¼ - ½ cup, till dough no longer feels sticky and can be kneaded (in a mixer with a dough hook—aka Kitchenaid—the dough will ball and clean the sides and the hook when there’s enough flour)
3. Take out dough and knead for a few minutes on a wooden surface sprinkled with some white flour to keep dough from sticking
Clean out mixing bowl, dry and coat with some olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl flipping it so it is coated with the oil, top and bottom. Cover the bowl loosely with a plate or towel and let rise for one hour. If it’s a hot day, rising can be cut to 45 minutes.
4. 2d rise: punch down dough, flip in the bowl, cover, and let it rise another hour.
5. Punch down dough, place on kneading surface and knead just enough to get rid of any large air pockets. Let dough rest for a few minutes while you . . .
Prepare the bread pan by coating with butter.
There are various methods for making a loaf (I have some trouble with this part): flatten out the dough with the palm of your hand into a rectangle, roll up the long sides, tucking in the ends to form a loaf that looks like a loaf so it’s even from end to end and slightly humped in the middle.
Place loaf in the pan; you can finish ‘loafing’ the dough in the pan by pushing it around a bit with your fingers, till it looks loafy. Careful to not lose the butter coating.
The last rise will probably take an hour, maybe more. The loaf will probably overflow the sides of the pan a bit (it’ll have ears). Don’t let the loaf start to deflate. If it does it can be re-kneaded and put back in the pan to rise again. Dough is pretty resilient.
Place in oven, about in the middle, shut door and turn on oven . Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F. It’s done!
6. Notes: I use organic flours where possible: Red Mills whole wheat and white. The taste is in the flour so use best flours. No point spending a lot of time on Patience using crappy flour.
I recommend Iliada or other Greek olive oil. The Iliada can be gotten on sale at the local Wine Market (@ $30/3 liters), across from Fr Broad grocery and of course Blue Sprrrl. If you don’t want to spend $ on oil use a good vegetable oil. Go organic.
I add some herbs to the mix at the no. 2 stage, after putting in the oil and salt. Suit to taste. I like a blend of Italian herbs. Not too much, not too little. Helpful? Put some in your palm and tip.
You can simplify the flours, using just a good white wheat and whole wheat, skipping the 10 Grain and the Spelt. Spelt is a mild-tasting wheat. Delicous! If not enough wheaty flavor, sub a cup of whole wheat for I cup of Spelt. The 10 Grain adds some body and taste to the mix. Maybe hard to remember to include it; e.g., in the batch of bread I’m currently making—I forgot it.
Make this bread and you’ll never go back to store bought. Which could be a problem.
Bread dough’s resilience: once I put a carefully cared for loaf in the oven, flipped the switch, and went off to do other things. After maybe 15 minutes I noticed smoke coming out of the oven. Now why’s that? Oven need cleaning? The full clamity was soon apparent on opening the oven door, greeted by a billow of smoke. By mistake I had turned on the broiler! Sht! Well let’s see: I pulled out the charred mess, took off the top blackened crust, wedged, er, kneaded up the rest, put back in the pan to rise; it did and voila, a not bad loaf of bread at the end of it all. So never give up. BUT, it the loaf doesn’t rise and flattens out on top, and you end up with a dense dough, screw it, throw it out. Give to the birds or bears. You’ll hate it if you keep it, pretending it’s better than it is, and be reminded mercilessly of the mediocre result.
To help bread to do it’s rising properly takes patience; I’ve found that making a sponge at the beginning helps in the rising. Probably voodoo.