Sometime before last Thanksgiving, I started dabbling in bread making. I wanted to make sure that it would be a habit that would stick with me, and it has, so I wanted to share my thoughts on the whole concept now that I have a couple loaves under my belt.
First, I’m sure everyone wants to know why an ND would make bread. I am occasionally gluten free and a-whole-bunch-of-other-things free, but in my house I have one member who is gluten free and the other is corn free, so it pays to be flexible. The gluten free part is easy, I make a gluten free bread for my son. But for my nutritionally-challenged corn-free husband, things can get really complicated.
Corn is in everything. Including bread. Corn syrup, corn starch, corn solids, corn meal. He is already very limited in what he can eat, or is willing to eat, so having a bread available to him makes all the difference. We did find a commercially available bread with no corn here in Vermont, but it has over 10 ingredients, which at any time might change. We are constantly re-checking ingredients lists for this reason and anything with a laundry list of ingredients is exhausting. Making something with only 4 ingredients (6 in the case of the gluten free bread) really appeals to the desire for my family to eat whole foods as much and as often as possible.
But I’m a busy lady! I need something that is easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. Luckily, I’ve found all the things to make this happen on a regular basis and I’ll share it all with you. I’ll list all the resources and products that I use. I won’t have any links since this post is for informational purposes only.
I originally used a recipe I found on Pinterest, but then when I needed more information, I bought a book called The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Dr. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. It has wheat and GF recipes, so it’s great for a mixed household like mine, but they have also written a completely gluten free cookbook as well.
When I first started, I went by the recommendations to make a large batch and store it in the refrigerator. But, if your house is like mine, refrigerator space comes at a premium, so I started making one-loaf batches and keeping it on the counter most of the time. Except for the GF bread which I allow to rise on the counter, then store in the fridge until I’m ready to bake.
Ingredients for Wheat Bread:
The authors of the above book recommended memorizing a ratio so that it is easier to remember without constantly referencing the book. 6, 2, 2, 13 is the mnemonic that stands for 6 cups of water, 2 Tablespoons of yeast, 2 Tablespoons of salt and 13 cups of flour. As you can see above, my list is just ¼ of those numbers.
The gluten free version is just as easy to remember. Switch out the All Purpose Wheat Flour for Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour. Add 2 whole eggs and ¼ cup of melted butter (for the ingredients listed above, multiply as needed for larger batches). Voila! The 1:1 flour works great without having to source a bunch of different individual ingredients to mix together for your own flour. Although, if you prefer to do it that way, the list of ingredients is in the book above.
Mix together the water, salt and yeast. In the case of the GF bread, also mix in the eggs and melted butter. Then add the flour. I prefer to keep my kitchen on the minimalist side, so instead of investing in a large blender or bread maker, I use a stainless steel mixing bowl and a Dough Whisk. After mixing everything together, I cover the bowl with a silicone suction lid.
If you mix up the dough in the morning, it will be ready for baking in the evening, and vice versa. After a couple hours, I put the GF dough in the fridge to continue rising, but I leave the wheat dough on the counter for up to 1.5 days (usually when I need to bake a new loaf anyways, but if not, I’ll stick it in the fridge). You can store the dough in the fridge for up to two weeks, but I find it easier to mix a small batch every few days instead.
The GF dough gets ladled into an oiled bread pan as it is not stretchy like the wheat dough. The wheat dough gets covered with more flour and cloaked, which means to gently fold the top and sides down and under to the dough ball. You will not knead either of these doughs. After you place them in the loaf pans, you should let them rest for 45 (room temp dough) to 90 minutes (refrigerated dough). Then place them in a 450 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Pull them out and allow to cool on a rack before cutting into them.
My last piece of advice is to have a great bread box and a good bread knife. I bought the Clean Dezign Bamboo Fiber Bread Box Bin with Cutting Board Lid and can’t believe how fresh it keeps my bread. For the knife, I have a
Victorinox 10.25 Inch Serrated Bread Knife with Fibrox Handle and I love how it cuts the bread with ease.
Fresh bread, minimal ingredients, and easy enough to accomplish after work whenever we’re running low. The “5-Minute” portion of the book title is obviously in reference to prep time, not rising or cooking time, but you can do any other thing around the house while those happen so it isn’t included.
*I have no affiliations with any of the brands listed here and receive no compensation from any of them.
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