Today I didn’t so much bake as provide a kitchen and hover while a true master did the hard part. Kind of a nice change, though I did have to fight an urge to micromanage – I’m not used to being less knowledgeable about a recipe than someone else in the room. Regardless, the result was delicious.
The recipe comes out of the Tassajara Bread Book, which I have used a couple of times before. It’s a very bare bones bread – few ingredients and not much to do, but also the kind of bread that goes equally well spread with butter, jam, or Nutella (a surprisingly uncommon bread trait). And, though it’s not technically a sweet, it is most definitely baking, so I think it finds a welcome home on SMiLes by Meg.
First, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. I was fussing that the water was too hot, but apparently yeast has a wider range of activation temperature than I knew. If you are concerned, aim for water that isn’t too hot or cold on the inside of your wrist.Next, stir in the molasses and allow to sit for 3 minutes to feed the yeast (yes, that is why you add sweetener in yeast breads).Stir in 4 cups of whole wheat flour until well blended – about 100 strokes. Allow to rise for 45 minutes covered with a towel in a warmish place. Fold in the oil and salt.Fold in 3 more cups of flour until dough starts to pull away from sides of bowl.Turn dough out onto a board or mat dusted with flour and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic.Place in large bowl (or pan) and cover with towel, allowing to rise for an hour. Punch down and allow to rise for an additional 45 minutes. Cut in half and shape each half into a loaf by flattening into a disc, folding in corners, and flipping over onto a greased baking sheet. Allow to rise another 20 minutes on the baking sheet. Cut 3 half-inch-deep slits on the top of each loaf.Brush each loaf with egg wash.(The one with the indent in the side is mine.) Bake at 350°F for one hour. When bread is done, it will sound hollow when you knock on the bottom.Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool completely. (Of course, you could eat it hot so the butter melts better.) Pro tip: if you’re going to freeze one loaf, cut it into slices first. It will make you much happier than trying to cut a frozen loaf of bread.Other than that, store at room temperature in a bag.
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 2 packets yeast
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 7-8 cups whole wheat flour, divided
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup oil
- Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Stir in molasses and allow to sit for 3 minutes.
- Stir in 4 cups of whole wheat flour for about 100 strokes until well combined. Allow to rise for 45 minutes covered with a towel in a warmish place.
- Fold in salt and oil.
- Fold in 3 additional cups of whole wheat flour.
- Turn onto floured board and knead for 8 to 10 minutes until elastic and smooth, adding more flour as necessary to keep dough from getting to sticky.
- Place in large bowl and allow to rise, covered, for about an hour.
- Punch dough down and allow to rise an additional 45 minutes.
- Cut dough in half and shape into loaves by flattening each into a disc, folding in the corners, and turning dough over. Place on greased baking sheet and allow to rise 20 minutes.
- Cut 3 half-inch-deep slits into the top of each loaf. Spread with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 2 tablespoons water).
- Bake at 350°F for one hour. When bread is done, knocking on the bottom will sound hollow.
- Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.