I love fresh baked bread, but after a bit of a bread baking disaster a while back I've shied away from making it from scratch. Since my master baker mother was staying with me for a while I took full advantage of her mad yeast baking skills and got her to teach me all she knows. We tried out Sarabeth Levine's house bread recipe, and it turned out great. Mom showed me how to tell when to add more flour to the dough, and when the dough is ready. She showed me how to knead it, and how to prepare it for than pan so it bakes up perfectly. Thanks Mom! You're the best!
I loved the flavors in this bread, it's nutty with a bit of honey. My husband actually didn't really like it at all though, le sigh, there's just no pleasing some people, is there. He said the honey added a "weird flavor" to it. Whatever.
We modified the recipe slightly, taking out poppyseeds (didn't have any) and adding extra sunflower seeds. We also didn't follow her technique exactly (the recipe has you let the dough proof in a plastic bag), my Mom has made enough loaves of bread to know what works and what doesn't.
Bread from scratch takes a little bit of work, especially recipes that aren't "no knead", but if you're into baking you'll likely find it fun and really satisfying to make a good loaf.
Sarabeth's House Bread
adapted slightly from Sarabeth Levine
3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
2 1/4 cups cold water
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
4 tablespoons hulled sunflower seeds
Softened unsalted butter, for the bowl and pans
1 large egg, beaten with a hand blender, for the glaze
Sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F) in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the yeast, then stir to dissolve. Pour into the mixer bowl. Add 2 cups cold water and the honey and whisk to combine.
Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Combine the whole wheat flour, 2 1/4 cups of the bread flour, the cornmeal, sesame seeds, and salt in a large bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and seed mixer. Beat until a dough begins to form. Gradually add enough of the remaining bread flour to form a rough dough that cleans the sides of the bowl. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Knead on med-low speed until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky, about 5 min, again adding a little more flour only if necessary - keep the dough soft. During the last minute or so, add the sunflower seeds.
Transfer the dough to a clean work surface. Knead with your hands to check the dough's texture. It should be slightly sticky but not stick to the work surface. Knead in more flour only if needed. Butter a medium bowl. Shape the dough into a taut ball. Place in the bowl, turn to coat with butter, and turn smooth side up. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 1/4 hours.
Cut the dough in half. Shape each piece into a ball. Place on lightly flowered work surface and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 15 minutes. Butter two 8 by 4 by 2 1/2 -inch loaf pans. Working with one ball of dough at a time, gently press to deflate the dough. Pat the dough gently into a thick 8-inch-long rectangle. Starting from the long side, roll and shape into an 8-inch-long loaf and pinch the long seam closed. Place, seam side down, in the pan. Cover the loaves with a clean lint-free tea towel and let rise until they dome about an inch above the tops of the pans, about 45 minutes.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Brush the tops lightly but thoroughly with the beaten egg. Bake until the loaves are browned and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped, about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and cool completely on the rack.
Melt in Your Mouth Monday