Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today She Learned That Homemade Bread ROCKS!

First, a story about me and the bread machine. Once upon a time I was a bread-making snob. This was in my teen years. I found a recipe for homemade dinner rolls and put them together for Thanksgiving. By hand (okay, with the KitchenAid). They were light, fluffy, sweet and delicious. They became a staple at family holiday dinners. I carefully crafted my rolls every year, paying attention to kneading, rising, etc to make sure they came out perfectly. I prided myself on my ability to make yeast breads - something my awesome-baker mom never mastered. I arrogantly said that anyone who needed a bread machine was cheating.

Fast forward to 2005 - my first holiday season as a married woman. Naturally, as a "grown-up" I was expected to take on other responsibilities in the kitchen, but I continued to make my dinner rolls... However, for some reason, they were more like hockey pucks now. I spent the next 4 years of marriage making less-than-stellar dinner rolls. It finally began to occur to me that maybe all my extra responsibilities in the kitchen (I had hosted several Thanksgivings) had taken my attention away from my precious bread. Then, last year for Thanksgiving, I used my mom's bread machine. The rolls were light, fluffy and delicious again. I had a new love!

My mom sensed this love and I was given my very own bread machine for Christmas. Two failed loaves of bread caused me to set it aside for a few months. In one attempt (using a recipe that came with the machine), the loaf was lopsided and tasteless. In the other (a recipe I adapted), the dough just didn't come together. I was crestfallen... okay that's a bit melodramatic, but I was bummed to say the least.

I decided to dust off the bread machine and search Recipe Zaar for a recipe for Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. I found this one, which had rave reviews, and decided I'd give it a shot. The secret, according to the author of the recipe, is in using gluten, vitamin c powder, and lecithin granules to counteract the heaviness of the whole wheat. Well, I had gluten, but no vitamin c powder or lecithin granules. Most of the reviewers had omitted the lecithin, so I decided I could, too. I had some vitamin C tablets, so I ground them up to use in place of the vitamin C powder. My bread maker required an extra 2-3 tablespoons of water to bring the dough together and counteract the dryness of our climate.

The result was a beautiful loaf of light, healthy, sandwich-worthy bread. I was absolutely amazed! This recipe will be my go-to recipe for sandwich bread and I have no plans to buy a loaf of bread any time in the near future.

Here's the recipe, with notes on the changes I made (I'll try to remember to take pictures next time I make it to add to the recipe).

* 1-1/3 cups water (*I had to add 2-3 tablespoons because of the dryness here)
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil (*I used Canola)
* 1-1/2 teaspoons lecithin granules (*omitted)
* 3-1/4 cups hard whole wheat flour (as opposed to whole wheat pastry flour - mine had 4g of protein per serving)
* 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (*I used light brown)
* 2-1/4 tablespoons skim milk powder
* 1/4 cup gluten flour
* 1/4 teaspoon vitamin C powder (*I used ground up vitamin C tablets)
* 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1-1/2 teaspoons yeast

*Place ingredients in bread machine in the order shown (or as directed by your machine).
*Set machine to 1 1/2 pound loaf capacity.
*Set the machine to run on the dough cycle. Watch it through the initial mixing process. If the dough is not coming together, slowly add some water.
*At completion of the dough cycle, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 8"x12".
*Roll dough into a log, starting with the 8" side, so that your log is 8" long.
*Place into a lightly oiled bread pan and let rise until doubled (about an hour).
*Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and the bread makes a hollow sound when thumped.

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