Bread is really a staple of life for me. There's a lot I can pass over, many foods that I'd be able to give up, but not bread. I cannot resist the smell of warm, freshly baked bread. Even more than the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven, fresh bread makes me drool.
When the no-carb phase came I just laughed. There was no way I was hopping on that bandwagon. While those all around me were eschewing bread for....meat, I guess, I would chuckle a throaty laugh, saw off a big, warm slice of fresh carbs and wiggle my toes with the sheer delight of soft, moist bread with melting butter dripping into it.
One of my favorite loaves is this wheat recipe. It's a dense, moist, flavorful loaf that is perfect for sandwiches, fabulous for toast, and pairs up beautifully with some butter and jam or Nutella. Plus, it makes two loaves so you've got one for today and one for tomorrow!
adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook
3 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp salt
2 pkgs active dry yeast
4 cups whole-wheat flour
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup molasses
1- In the large bowl of a heavy duty mixer combine sugar, salt, yeast, 2 cups whole-wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour. In 2-quart saucepan over low heat, heat milk, butter, and molasses until very warm (120 to 130 deg. F). Or you can microwave it for about 3-1/3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.
2- With mixer at low speed, gradually beat liquid into dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium, beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat in 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or enough to make a thick batter; continue beating 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
3- With spoon, stir in 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat and additional all-purpose flour (about 1-1/2 cups) to make a soft dough.
4- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Shape dough into ball and place in greased large bowl, turning dough to grease top. Cover with towel; let rise in warm, draft-free place (80 to 85 deg. F), a mildly pre-heated oven is good, if you're in a chilly climate. Leave it till it's doubled in volume, about 1 hour, but you should go by the doubling, not the clock.
5- Punch down the dough; turn onto lightly floured surface; cut it in half; cover with the bowl and let the halves rest 15 minutes for easier shaping. Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.
6- With lightly floured rolling pin, roll one dough half into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Starting at a narrow end, roll dough up tightly and pinch the edge with your fingers. Seal the ends by pinching them and folding them under. Place the roll, seam side down, in loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.
7- Repeat step 6 with remaining dough. Cover loaves with towel; let rise in warm place, away from drafts, until loaves are doubled, about an hour. But again, go by the rising, not by the clock.
8-Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and pre-heat oven to 400 deg. F. Bake loaves 30 to 35 minutes. If the loaves are browning too quickly, you might need to put an aluminum foil tent over the loaves after about 15 minutes. Loaves should be golden and sound hollow when top is tapped lightly with fingers. Remove from pans immediately so bottoms don't become soggy, and cool on wire racks. I like to brush the tops with a little butter. It makes it pretty and softens the crust a bit.