Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thankful Thursday - My Weekly Bread

I'd like to brag a little here.  Now, I realize that having a blog featuring items I make seems a lot like bragging already, but please work with me here.  I figured this out because class that starts at 1:00pm is not as late in the day as it sounds, especially if you've spent the morning chipping away at a difficult problem set, dense article or research paper.  I figured this out because packing your own lunch requires planning, and sometimes, last night's dinner didn't have leftovers.  I figured this out because I ran out of eggs, and made it anyway.  Guess what?

I can make a bread dough in 15 minutes!  Can you?  Want to?  Fully assembled, rising, dishes washed and back to your homework in 15 minutes?  Here's how:

Gather about 3 cups of flour, at least one of which is bread flour.  I like 2 cups whole wheat and 1 cup bread flour.  Dump it into a big bowl and toss in a teaspoon and a half of salt, a teaspoon of active dry yeast and a third cup of olive oil.  Don't fret about the oil amount, something like what would comfortably fit in your cupped hands will do.  Maybe a little bit less, especially if you have large hands.  Yes, that's good.  Add about a cup of water.  For this bread, throw out your notions of baking requiring precise measurements, and toss it in.  You'll adjust it as you go, anyway.  Now grab a wooden spoon and mix it all up.  Add a little water or flour if it seems too dry or wet.  See how it's starting to resist your spoon?  Let it sit and go do the dishes that have piled up in your sink from you and your apartment mates cooking and also being exhausted.  

Looks like a blob, doesn't it?

Stir it some more.  You'll see that it's become a nice, stretchy, smooth ball of dough already, just from your stirring.  Tired?  That was your arm workout for the week.  Cover the bowl and let it sit for 8 hours.  8 hours, you say?  When do I have 8 hours?!  Oh, well, do you sleep?  No?  Go to school or work?  No?  Clean the house, look for a job, etc.?  No?  Oh, boy.  Go play your video games, then.  Come back in 8 hours.

I let it rise too much by accident, which explains the wrinkles on the sides.  I tried to shape it more into
what it should look like if your apartment isn't oddly warm because the school finally turned on the heat...
The dough will have doubled nicely.  Dig out your 9"x5" loaf pan, or something similarly-sized.  Grease it with a little butter, turn the bowl upside down over it, and wrangle the dough into shape in the pan.  Now let it sit for a couple more hours.  

From plop to puffy!

Also, I am constantly experimenting with this bread, although I am satisfied with
the version I offer you today.  In this case, I was trying to get a taller loaf, and tried
adding a half cup of whole wheat flour, adding water to adjust for the extra flour.

When you come back and it's approximately the size of the pan, preheat the oven to 400°F.  Bake the thing for 30 minutes.  Check that out, you made bread!

I repeat this procedure about once a week and basically live off it for quick breakfasts, lunches, snacks, etc.  This loaf has a nice wheat flavor and marvelous texture, with a thin, crisp crust and a slightly chewy, bouncy crumb.  I bet it'd take additions marvelously, like cheese, apples, beer, or all three :)

My Weekly Bread adapted rather heavily from tasteofhome
(You might notice that it no longer resembles the recipe much!)
Makes about 1.5 lb loaf 


2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast (although I probably use instant, and just don't notice) 
cup oil
1 cup water


1 large mixing bowl with a lid or a clean, damp towel
1 wooden spoon
1 cup dry measure
1 teaspoon measure (eyeball the salt, it's only a flavoring here)
2-cup liquid measure (optional; I eyeball the oil and water, too!)
1 rubber spatula (optional)
9"x5" loaf pan (or pan of your choice, but adjust the baking time)
Butter to grease the pan


1. Toss everything in the bowl and knead/stir to make a smooth, stretchy, pliable dough.  If it becomes tough to stir, let it sit for a few minutes and come back.  Cover and leave to rise for 8 hours, or until doubled in size.  If your place is warm, check back in 6.

2. Lightly grease your loaf or other pan.  Form a ball or oval blob of dough and fit it into the pan.  This is when your rubber spatula will come in handy.  Allow to rise another 2 hours, or until it almost fills the pan.

3. Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake at 400
°F for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before slicing, so the texture does not become odd and sticky.  Enjoy! 

Very few things are not improved with the addition of butter.

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