I know I’ve been a little inconsistent with my blog posts recently. The closer we get to starting school again (we are homeschoolers around here), the more my spare moments are filled with curriculum ordering and lesson planning. But I am determined to keep the posts coming at least twice a week, and without trying to sound too pompous, I’m really proud of what I have to offer you today.
This past weekend we had some of our dear friends from Virginia here for a visit, and since they were new to the whole Lancaster County way of doing things, we welcomed them to our home with a dinner consisting of veggies from our garden, a big platter of fresh sweet corn (of course), and a loaf of homemade bread.
I think I forgot how good this bread recipe was. It’s been a couple of months since I've made it, and after I had my first bite of it on Friday night, I nearly slapped myself for not making this recipe on at least a bi-weekly basis. I’m telling ya, folks, this bread will rip the pants off any inferior loaf you would get at the grocery store. And it's so easy to make that I included it in my kid's cooking class this past year, and they were all six years old and younger and made it without a hitch.
And we all know how I am about my label reading. They just love sneakin’ all kinds of nasty stuff in bread these days, especially that dirty dog, high fructose corn syrup. I’ve seen a couple of the bigger name bakery brands eliminating it from their bread, but there are still loads of other ingredients that I can’t pronounce hiding away in there. If you’re lying awake at night, wishing there were a better way to feed your family food without all the chemicals and crap in it, or if you just like a slice of crazy-good bread, this recipe has your name written all over it. Take it; it’s yours.
[Fill in your name here]’s Crazy-Good Wheat Bread
1 ½ c. warm water
1 large egg, room temp.
2 tbsp. butter, room temp.
1/3 c. pure maple syrup (I don’t really want to get into this discussion again, but considering the risk of you completely ruining this recipe with Aunt Jemima, I’ll briefly reiterate my stand on this topic: use real maple syrup!!!)
2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. old fashioned oats
2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. quick-rising yeast
Now, I own a KitchenAid mixer and I have never made this recipe without one so if you don’t have a stand mixer, prepare yourself for a bit of an arm workout. In either case, you just need to put all the ingredients into your bowl in the order listed above. Then, if you have the stand mixer, simply attach your dough hook and turn on the machine.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, well, get stirrin’. What you eventually want to end up with is a moist, thick dough. You don’t want it too sticky to where your fingers get all coated with dough when you try to pull it away from the hook or spoon, but you also don’t want a big old stiff ball of dough either. If it’s too dry, add more water; too wet, add more white flour. I guess if I were going to err on one side or the other, I’d go for too wet than too dry.
Okay, moving on (sorry about all the technicalities there; it isn’t that complicated in real time; I’m sure you’ll do just fine). Simply put a damp towel or some plastic wrap over top of your bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place till it’s doubled in size, about an hour and a half.
Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan and turn your risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it for just a couple minutes to make sure it’s texture is nice and smooth, then form it into a loaf that will fit in your pan and flop it on in. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise again, this time for about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. At this point, your dough will be just over the rim of your loaf pan and ready to go. Bake for 30 minutes or until a nice and dark wheaty brown on top. Pull it out, let it rest for a couple of minutes, then loosen the edges and turn it out on a rack to cool completely.
Fresh butter from the dairy and homemade strawberry jam on top and you’re golden, my friend. Enjoy.