There are a few amazing bread blogs that I have found over the years that have inspired me in my quest for fresh, artisian bread. I first started making bread about five years ago but the standard recipes left me fairly disappointed. I wanted more out of bread than an average sandwich loaf that was a bit dry and bland. I read The Bread Bible and found one recipe that I just loved and since then have tweaked it to make a healthier, whole grain version that our family LOVES! You can give it a try:
For the Sponge (I’ll explain later)
1/4 c. whole wheat flour- best quality. I use Hodgson Mills
1 c. bread flour
1/4+1/8 t. instant yeast
1 1/3 c warm water
2 T. molasses
* a “Sponge” is when you whisk the above ingredients together, turing it into a pancake like consistency then you mix another batch of dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour the dry over the wet, covering the wet ingredients. It’s best to let it sit overnight in a cool place. Otherwise let it sit at least an hour to ferment.
3/4 c bread flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t instant yeast
* mix all dry ingredients together and sprinkle on top of the Sponge, covering it completely. Now let all ingredients stand, in a covered bowl, overnight in a cool place or for at least an hour to ferment and bubble.
1. Mix all ingredients togethther to make a ‘rough dough’. That just means mix with a wooden spoon but you’re not kneading or mixing all the way yet. Now pour just over 1 t salt on top and let sit, covered, for about 20 min. You aren’t really suppose to add salt to direct yeast b/c it sort of kills the yeast.
2. Now either put in a kitchen aid mixer for about 6 min on low-med speed or hand knead on a floured surface for about 5-7 min. Put back into a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place (I turn the oven on up to about 80F then turn it off and let the bread rise in the warm oven- the winter is so cold here) for 1.5 hours.
3. Turn out onto a floured surface and push down to get some bubbles out. Fold up and return to bowl. Cover and let rise for another hour.
4. Turn out again onto a floured surface, press down gently (you’re not getting all the bubbles out this time). Fold over and return to bowl. Let rise another hour.
5. Turn out AGAIN (this process ferments the bread and the long rise time gives better flavor and more air bubbles. This time either put the bread in a greased loaf pan or flour a napkin that sits inside of a narrow bowl and put the ball of dough inside to rise. This shape will give it more of an artisian look but it all tastes the same to me. Cover either method with a towel to let rise (not in the oven this time). It needs to rise another hour but about half way through you need to start heating the oven to 490F.
6. Once your hour is up and oven is at 490F spray the top of the bread with water (I use a water bottle) and put it in the oven. If you aren’t using a loaf pan you’re going to have to invert the bread to a pan. Flour the top of the bread to avoid sticking. I use cornmeal. Now put your pan over your bread bowl, flip upside down (invert) and put the bread and pan in the oven. Spray with water first.
7. Bake at 490F for 10 min. Then turn down to 425F and bake for 20 min.
8. Take out of loaf pan to cool. Let bread cool for at least 15 min. Trust me. If you try to slice right away it will all collapse and smoosh.