Friday, January 29, 2010

Fresh and Simple Bread

If you haven't read or heard of Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food, I suggest you run to your local library or book store and grab a copy. It changed my life by completely re-vamping the way I eat. One of Pollan's eating suggestions that really changed me was:
Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Imagine your great grandmother at your side as you shop. You are at the dairy case and she picks up Go-Gurt Yogurt tube - and has no idea what this could possibly be. Is it food or toothpaste? If she wouldn't think it was edible, don't put it in your cart! Let's consider bread now... your grandmother would tell you that bread is made using a remarkably small number of ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and a pinch of salt will do. But industrial breads have become much more complicated. Here's is a complete list of ingredients in Sara Lee's Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread.
(What a second... isn't white and whole grain a contradiction in terms? Evidently not any more.)

Enriched bleached flour, water, whole grains, high fructose corn syrup, whey, wheat gluten, yeast, cellulose, honey, calcium sulfate, vegetable oil, salt, butter, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, ascorbic acid, enzymes, azodicarbonamide), guar gum, calcium propionate, distilled vinegar, yeast nutrients, corn starch, natural flavor, betacarotene, vitamin D, soy lectin, soy flavor.
I don't know about you but I don't love the idea of all of these non-food items entering my body. I never bought bread again after reading this. Here is a fresh and simple way to tackle bread and make it fresh for you and your family.
The beauty of this recipe is that after you make it, you can store it in the fridge, rip a piece off and bake it. The dough stays good in the fridge for up to 5 days after you make it.
Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (aka: the most amazing whole wheat bread EVER!)
- 5 cups Whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp Granulated yeast
- 1 tbsp Sea salt
- 1/4 cup Vital wheat gluten *found in the baking aisle with the flours
- 2 1/2 cups Lukewarm water
- 1/3 cup Honey
- 5 Large Eggs
- 2/3 cup Olive oil

  1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten in a large bowl, or a lidded (not air tight) food container. Combine the liquid ingredients and mix them with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a wooden spoon. You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate (usually not necessary).
  2. Cover (not airtight) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
  3. The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. The flavor will be best if you wait for at least 24 hours of refrigeration.
  4. On baking day: Lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2 pound piece (about the size of a cantaloupe). Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
  5. Elongate the ball into an oval and place it into the loaf pan; your goal is to fill the pan about 3/4 full. Cover it loosely with a clean dish towel.
  6. Allow the loaf to rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough) at room temperature.
  7. Five minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Smaller or larger loaf pans will require adjustments in baking time.
  8. Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing and eating.
  9. Enjoy!
Makes at least three loaves

Nutritional Information per slice: (13-14 slices per loaf)
Calories: 122; Total Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 21mg; Sodium: 80mg; Carbs: 19g; Protein: 3g


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