Like every other obnoxious Brooklyn/Cali foodie, after reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (it's the short one) I was completely terrified by all the weird chemicals that are in basically every food (and especially "food") ever. Now, I've never been a big processed food eater, and I pretty much make everything from scratch due to the overwhelming guilt I would feel for taking a culinary shortcut. That's right, people, I make my own pie crust in order to avoid feeling guilty. Actually, the avoidance of guilt has been pretty helpful along the way in helping me make decisions. For realz!
What was I talking about? Oh. Chemicals.
Right. Well here's the deal--I was sitting around on my high horse while reading Pollan's book because I'm sooo virtuous and don't eat processed food (except for hot dogs on Kate's birthday) when I happened to take a look at the ingredients in my fancy twice-wrapped Healthy Multi-Grain bread. Ready?
So far so good. Rice is a little weird...ok...but wtf are half of these things?
CELLULOSE FIBER, SOYBEAN OIL, BLACK & WHITE SESAME SEEDS, SALT, MOLASSES, CULTURED DEXTROSE AND MALTODEXTRIN, DATEM,MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, CALCIUM SULFATE, CITRIC ACID, POPPY SEEDS, GRAIN VINEGAR, SOY LECITHIN, NUTS (WALNUTS AND/OR HAZELNUTS AND/OR ALMONDS), WHEY, NONFAT MILK.
Hmm. Not so "healthy" after all. So, in a frenzy of righteousness, curiosity and just a shake of unemployed boredom, I decided to start making my own bread. I've been tweaking this recipe from Bittman's How to Cook Everything (a.k.a. the Bible) for several loaves now. It takes all told about five hours to make, but most of that time can be spent twittering or messaging people on facebook since the bread is just rising. The texture is not quite as elastic as normal supermarket bread, but it makes really tasty and satisfying sandwich bread and really good peanut butter toast when you come home wasted at 5am. *cough*
Rustic Wheat Bread adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything
makes 1 large loaf
1 c. wheat flour 2 1/2 c. white flour 2 tsp. salt 1 1/2 tap. instant yeast 2 TB honey 2 TB butter, cut into 1/4 in. cubes, at room temperature, plus a bit more for the pan 1 1/3 c. (scant) cool whole milk
Place half the wheat and half the white flour in a small bowl and blend. Place other portions of flour and remaining ingredients in the bowl of a strong stand mixer. Mix on low until butter starts to become incorporated, then slowly add the remaining flour to the bowl. Continue to mix (you may have to steady the mixer with your hand) until a dough forms. Do not over-mix. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface with a ramekin of extra flour set aside. Knead for about a minute or more, folding the dough over itself, adding flour to the board until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to your hands as you work.
Lightly oil a large bowl and shape the dough into a ball. Let rise for 2 hours covered by plastic wrap, until the dough doubles in size. Once the dough rises, deflate it and reshape it on the same floured surface. Flatten it into a rectangle and then fold the sides under and pinch together to form a loaf shape. Butter a 8 x 4 inch pan and press the dough down into it with the back of your hand, seam side down. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 to 2 more hours until nearly level with the top of the pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush top with just a bit of water and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
When it's done the loaf will sound hollow if you tap it and the sides will pull just slightly away from the pan.
*P.S. The photo positioning was being an asshole. So I'm sorry if this posted to anyone's RSS 400 times.