Well, I did in fact work on knives today (finished one!), but I also made bread, and so I’ll take a break from knives and talk about cooking. I will say that the knife sold in less than 15 minutes, which may be a record for me. It probably means that it was underpriced…. But then, they’re all underpriced. 😦
Now, I did not bake bread today. The oven did that. 😉
But first, a little history. I’ve been making bread for about 19 1/2 years. Back in December of ’91, my dads job took us to France, where we lived for 6 months. We lived in an old farm house in a small village. It was a very cool experience, but we quickly discovered that everything is very expensive there (our first heating bill was $400, and the phone bill was $300), so we had to figure ways to save money. We switched to wood heat and stopped calling people. 😉 We also found ways to eat cheaply. We ate lot’s of potato soup. For some reason I was chosen as the breadmaker. My dad taught me the basics, and everyday I would make one loaf (the only oven we had was a toaster oven, and it would only hold one loaf) of sourdough bread. It was an all day affair. But it was cheap and went well with potato soup.
Anyway, I don’t care so much for sourdough bread anymore, so the bread I made today is a recipe that’s evolved over the last 15 years or so. It’s nothing special, just a good all purpose bread.
So, to get started, here’s a photo of all the ingredients:
Whole grain spelt flour, which I ground, (wheat works fine, but we don’t have any), bread flour, sugar, molasses, salt, yeast, and butter.
In a bowl (or mixer, if that’s what you’re using), measure 2 cups of fairly warm water. I use the hot water from our tap.
Add to that 2 tablespoons yeast, about 2 tablespoons molasses, one tablespoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and one stick of butter. More molasses, or maple syrup, can be used instead of the sugar, but don’t use honey. Honey can kill the yeast. Likewise, don’t use coconut oil instead of butter. Coconut oil (and honey) has antibacterial properties, and yeast is a bacteria. Took me several flat loaves to figure that out. Butter tastes far better anyway.
Mix it all up.
Now add flour, about 1 cup at a time, until you get to the desired stiffness. I used about half and half of the spelt and bread flours.
The right texture is something learned over time, but you want it to clean the bowl for sure. If it’s sticky it’s too wet.
Now knead it for 5 to 10 minutes:
Now let rise until about doubled:
Now knead it again, adding flour if it needs it. Turn out onto the (clean) countertop, and knead a little bit by hand. Here’s a rare action shot, with me in the picture, even:
Now cut it into two equal pieces:
Now knead each one some more, and shape into a cylindrical shape:
Now put them into greased bread pans:
Now let rise until the tops are about level with the rims of the pans. These went a little too far:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Ours runs a little hot, so I went with 370:
See how much they rose while the oven was preheating. They’ll rise more in the oven…
Now bake for 40 minutes. Test them for doneness, and cook more if needed. Test by tapping on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, you’re good.
40 minutes later. See, I told you they would rise more…
Now wait a few minutes (if you can) and then cut yourself a slice. If you cut it right away, it’ll be gummy.
Don’t overeat. 😉
“Til next time,