This is a picture of what I look like when I eat. Don't you look that way too?
So today I woke up and I just itched to bake. It was essential that I cover myself and my kitchen in flour. I needed to grind my own wheat and then pour it into a mixing bowl whilst following a good recipe. Or two or three. I just needed to.
So today I am going to make your baking day by showing you a few sites that have taught me all I need to know about baking really good bread sticks, pizza dough, sandwich bread (that you actually want to make sandwiches out of), and a really beautiful rustic loaf that looks like you bought it at a bakery but NO-- it came out of your own oven and was made with your own little hands. Oh yes.
If that doesn't scratch your baking itch than we likely won't ever be really good friends, you know?
...I'm sure you are okay with that.
I will show you a site that will answer every single question you have about how to make a whole wheat loaf of sandwich bread that is both soft and delicious. It is both non-crumbly and beautiful.
I mean... come on.
I have a friend who has a friend... or something... who has this really handy site all about everything from how to make the perfect chocolate cookie to how to make a really great loaf of bread (as I said). I don't know where these girls have been all my life. My cookies and bread thank them.
So this is a link to the bread tips that I use, but really, spend some time browsing the site-- it is so thorough. If you didn't have someone hover over you and teach you all you need to know about cooking growing up, then this will be a good substitute.
So the number one step for making fluffy chewy sandwich bread on that page is to soak your wheat flour for 1/2 hour to 12 hours. This means you mix your flour and water and let it sit at room temperature on your counter. I made around four recipes this morning (or will be later) and when I do that I like to label my doughs. Today I just covered my dough in plastic wrap and then wrote on it with a sharpie. But by all means, do whatever floats your boat.
What? When you run out of plastic wrap suddenly don't you use leftover red wrap from Christmas? I have green too.
HERE is a link to the pizza dough I am making. Oh Pinterest, what would I do without you? This recipe claims to be the BEST ONE EVER.... I will have to see if I agree! Half of this dough will be made into those cheesy bread sticks she mentions in the same recipe. My husband has requested and shall receive.
Since I was in the mood to use flour I had just ground myself I busted out this contraption. Check her out??? She is an oldie but goodie. I somehow inherited her from my wonderful husband's grandma. Cool huh? She kind of looks like an Unidentified Flying Object.
Since I was using whole wheat and I don't want my pizza dough heavy and bricklike, I went ahead and soaked my flour by combining the water and flour the recipe called for. I will just add the rest of the ingredients after that sits for a few hours.
After I put that together I thought to myself, "Why stop there!?" So I kept on grinding wheat berries into flour and mixed up enough flour and water to start soaking three loaves of sandwich bread. That recipe is above and also HERE.
I also like to sometimes write the ingredients I have already used... You know, not that I would forget and add them twice and ruin the recipe or anything... Ha-- I tried to cover this bowl in leftover Christmas saran wrap and not only was it not sticking but it wasn't large enough. I grabbed the lid for the bowl and put the labeled wrap on top. See? Whatever floats your boat.
After that I thought to myself again, "More more!"
So I pulled out THIS recipe. Pioneer Woman, sigh. (I love you). I made this loaf just the other day and it turned out so beautiful it made me leak a few tears. I wanted to do that again. Since I have to think about when my oven will be free to do all this baking, I decided to use a technique a friend just shared with me the other day. She made this beautiful bread and shared it with me-- I asked her, "Friend, did you make this with half whole wheat and half white flour?" and this friend said, "Why no, I used half hard white wheat and half soft white wheat!"
So that is what I did with this recipe. I just love using all whole grains and using my grinder this morning probably gave me the chills but I mean, I wouldn't admit that here. That would be weird.
So here is my lovely ball of dough rising for the most beautiful loaf you ever will see.
What on earth am I going to do with all of this bread after it is baked, you ask? Well that is a very good question I thought hard about as I was covering every surface of myself and my kitchen with freshly ground flour. I thought to myself, "Utter Girl, who do you think would take this freshly made bread off your hands after you make it cause, you know that your kids hate sandwiches made with anything other than white bread from the store and nobody but you really cared about that beautiful rustic loaf you made the other day and half of it would have gone to waste had you not made that french toast out of it a few days later... (I always think in run on sentences.)" So I thought up a few friends who have gone through some hard or new times lately and I will be stuffing my three boys in the van later on and making them deliver them right to those friends doors. Warm.
So there, ungrateful intermediate family. That is how I will deal with you.
And that is where I am. In a few hours I will put the rustic loaf into the oven to bake for a little over an hour. While that bakes in my cast iron enamel pan I will add the rest of the ingredients to my sandwich bread to start it rising. It will need about three and half hours to rise twice and bake after that. Oh yes, it will be ready right as my children get home from school so they can deliver it for me. My rustic loaf will have baked while the other bread rose (are you following me?) and it will have cooled while the sandwich bread baked, so it will be ready to deliver as well. I know just where that loaf will go. A friend just got home from having a baby and I know she will appreciate that loaf's glory. (If you don't appreciate the loaf's glory, you don't get bread. So there, intermediate family... who I love...)
Then after we get home I will make cheesy bread sticks to go with dinner. I will need to mix in the rest of the ingredients into this while the sandwich bread is baking. That way the bread stick/pizza dough can rise while we are delivering bread. Oh yes, this is going to work out.
I will post pics another time of all the loaves completely and out of the oven. I love baking days! Yay!
Here is a recap of all of those links:
Sandwich Bread Technique from The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
Pizza Dough and Bread Stick Recipe from Lauren's Latest
Super Awesome Crunchy on Just the Very Outside and Softy Silky on the Inside Beautiful Loaf
There you have it.