Friday, 15 February 2013

Mmmmm... Bread

I have a confession to make...I'm a carb freak.  I love anything carb related, bread, pasta, sugar, name it...I love it.  Luckily for me, I've also been blessed with a very high metabolism (knock on wood, I hope I'm not jinxing myself now).  It actually seems to be a genetic thing for sure though because my brother Ty and my sisters Josi and Emma, are the same way.  We're just a twiggy bunch who need to buy our jeans 2 sizes too big to be long enough and are never without a belt. 

Me & My Handsome Brother, Ty:)

Ok, back to the purpose of this story...bread.  Growing up, I would eat nothing but white bread, the sight of brown bread made me want to, well you know, toss my cookies.  As I've gotten older, and hopefully a little wiser, I've realized that there isn't a whole lot of anything in plain old white bread and on top of that, homemade bread is so much better.  How can you not LOVE the smell of baking bread in your house (best air freshener EVER, in my opinion) and even better, cutting off a thick slice, slathering it with butter and then inhaling it...that's how I do it anyways:)

So I opened up the cupboard today and wouldn't you know it, no bread:( Looks like it's a baking day and since my wonderful husband is taking me out for dinner tonight it gives me a chance to show you my bread making skills, hopefully they don't decide to fly the coop though:)

The recipe I use is one I adapted from my Good Housekeeping Cook's Collection book that you can find here.  It's a great cookbook because it's a British cookbook and almost everything is done by weight, not volume, which I've come to learn is way more accurate and leads to a lot less headaches. One of the best buys ever for my kitchen was my digital scale and I use it ALL THE TIME!!  Now, onto the recipe for some 12 Grain Bread, ala Carrie Style:)

12 Grain Bread
(adapted from Good Housekeeping Cook's Collection)

300 grams (approx. 2 1/8 c.) White Bread Flour plus more as needed
100 grams (approx. 3/4 c.) Whole Wheat Bread Flour
100 grams (approx. 3/4 c.) 12 Grain Flour
1 tsp Active, Dry Yeast
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Unsalted Butter, softened
1 tbsp Sugar
325 mL (11 fl. oz) Warm Water
Flour for dusting

Notice the scale, like I said, BEST BUY EVER!!
 To start, I make a sponge...basically you take the flour, make a well in the middle, add the water, sprinkle on the yeast, draw some of the flour into the well and mix it a bit to have something similiar to a bit of batter in the middle and then cover it and leave it for about 20 mins.

Step 1: Combine flours

Step 2: Make a well in the centre

Step 3: Add water to the well

Step 4: Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water

Step 5: Draw in a little bit of the flour to make some "batter"

This is what it looks like before I cover it and leave it for 20 mins
After letting everything "sponge" for 20 minutes I add the softened butter and sprinkle on the salt and sugar and combine everything together a bit to make a really shaggy, sticky dough.

Now, I've done the whole kneading by hand thing and still do it sometimes if the mood strikes me, but I have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer and a dough hook, so that's what I'm using today.  With the stand mixer you want to knead the dough for about 5 minutes, if you're going to do it by hand, double that time...if you skipped out on the arm workout at the gym, kneading by hand is a very good substitute. You'll want to lightly flour the surface your going to be kneading on, I usually just use my counter top with some flour sprinkled over it. 

Depending on how humid/dry your kitchen is you may need to add more flour or even water as you go.  I always add about a tablespoon at a time of either one and today it just so happened that when my kneading time was up with the stand mixer and the dough was still really sticky so I added a tablespoon of flour and put my mixer back to work for about another minute or so. 

Here's some pics of the dough coming together while the mixer does it thing.

Still a shaggy mess, about 30 secs in
If kneading by hand, sometimes it helps to oil up your hands a bit to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Coming together nicely, about 2 mins in

Adding a tablespoon of flour after 5 mins

If your dough is still really sticky when you touch it after kneading for awhile, add a little more flour.  You want it to end up being slightly tacky, but not all out sticky. 

I actually just learned how to do the window pane test to check if you've kneaded enough.  It's hard to explain but another blog called The Kitchn has a great video that shows you how to do it here.

Ready to rise:)

Once I'm done kneading I turn the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat all sides and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap that I've lightly oiled as well as a tea towel and put it in a warm place to rise for about 2-3 hours.  You want it to double in size.  A good test is to place two fingers down to the second knuckle in the dough, if it "heals" right away, it's not ready, if the imprint stays, you should be good to go. 

Ready to go to it's warm place:)
I use top of my fridge, its actually one of the warmer spots in your kitchen.

 After the first rise, punch down the dough and give it a quick knead.

Next, you want to form it into a loaf and place it in a well greased loaf pan.  Recover it with the plastic wrap and tea towel and place it back in it's warm place to rise, about another hour to hour and a half.

Once the loaf is done it's second rise it's ready to go in the over.  First you want to make 3 slashes, about 1/2" deep using a sharp knife.

After the 2nd Rise
Slashing it up:)

From here, pop it in the oven.  Notice I didn't say anything about preheating the oven, that's because I bake mine in the loaf pan, set on a pizza stone starting in a cold oven.  I've been doing this for awhile now and to be honest, I can't remember where I read it, but I like how the loaves turn out.  So, I put the loaf in a cold oven and set the temperature for 350F, another great kitchen tool is an oven thermometer, if you don't have one, get one.  I leave the loaf in for about 45 mins, I check on it around the 44 minute mark and if it has an internal temperature of 190F and sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom, it's done. 

Can't wait to eat that!!
Once it's done, set the loaf out to cool for a bit on a wire rack, I've read that you should let it sit and cool for at least 15 minutes before you cut into it.  I know it's hard, trust me, but I can vouch for that, I've knifed up a couple of loaves pretty good by being impatient and I've found that patience is what makes a really good loaf of bread:)

After finally getting to sink my teeth into some warm bread and butter, in the words of the wise Phil Robertson, I'm Happy, Happy, Happy:)


  1. Hi Robin,

    Thanks:) It's a family favorite, nice & light for sandwiches, toasts up great & rarely lasts very