Monday, February 20, 2012

Trying Something New // Baking Bread

I used to hate cooking and baking, but now that I am learning more about eating whole foods, I am eager to try recipes that allow me to control what ingredients we are consuming. 

Bread is one of those things that can contain a lot of weird or unnecessary ingredients. Many store-bought types of bread, even wheat bread, are made with refined white flours and sugars. These are things that actually weaken many of our body’s functions, instead of nourishing. I probably will not avoid these types of ingredients completely, but it is my goal to make most of the food I consume nourishing so that when I do choose to indulge in (or just cannot avoid) the sketchy foods, my body can easily process it out of my system.  So, I figured bread would probably be an easy starting point in my effort to “purify” some of our staple foods. 

Thankfully, my husband likes wheat bread too so this transition will be easy. I started by buying a loaf of locally made whole wheat bread from our local foods store. It was $3.50….not a price we are thrilled about but we needed bread at the time. (My husband kept teasing me that he couldn’t use $3.50 bread for his sandwiches….PB&J is not worthy of such a price. Haha!) Thankfully making bread at home is cheaper.

So my Mom let me borrow her bread machine and I got busy looking up recipes. I decided to take a chance and NOT use a recipe from the machine’s booklet. Most of them contained dry milk and sugar – ingredients I do not want in my bread.

Instead, I found this recipe I found online:

Whole Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey (I used local raw honey)
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour*
2 1/2 tsp yeast

*During the kneading cycle, I noticed the dough was super sticky. I had to add a lot of flour. I’m thinking of trying the recipe again with 4 cups of flour.

I was a little nervous about baking bread because it is one of those things where you have to get everything just right. I think the bread maker relieves some of that pressure, but even then the steps have to be just so:

Bread Machine Instructions
1) All ingredients must be room temperature.
2) All ingredients must be measured exactly.
3) Pour all wet ingredients into the pan.
4) Pour all dry ingredients into the pan – except the yeast.
5) Create a well in the flour with your finger into which you pour the yeast. Yeast must not come into contact with wet ingredients.
6) During the kneading cycles, check the dough consistency. Too sticky – add a tsp of flour at a time. Too dry – add a tsp of water at a time.
7) After the final kneading cycle – RELAX!

Here's what came out:

This bread turned out dense, but soft and moist. I had a piece of it fresh out of the machine with some Kerrygold butter spread over it. YUM! (Oh and my wonderful husband approves too.)