Except on those days when a particularly excellent summer reading program ignites a certain eight-going-on-nine-year-old boy’s love of reading with the kindling of competition and the fantastic far-off chance of winning the single DSi some 4,912 others are swooning over and plodding through pages in pursuit of, we eat lunch at the table. Kitchen or Dining, doesn’t matter.
Otherwise, I slide a bowl of Pink Ladies and two slices of yesterday’s loaf, spackled with a thick smear of Krema Nut and strawberry jam, onto the couch. Surreptitiously, so as not to start a trend. So much so I’m not sure he’s even noticed.
Until I return to crumbs and The Edgewater Chronicles, face down, forty pages past the last divide.
Yield: 2 loaves
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
The mix of flours and light touch of butter and honey give this bread a tender crumb rare among whole wheat breads. Even better: instead of drying out overnight in the way of so many homemade loaves, it holds this supple softness for three days, maybe more (no loaf has made it to day four yet, to test). My KitchenAid is my accomplice in all things kneaded; wiser bakers will need to be consulted for instructions in pummeling a yeast dough into submission without it.
4 cups whole wheat/whole grain flour (I use a mix of whole wheat and oat flour)
3 cups white flour, unbleached
1 shy Tbs. Salt
1 Tbs. Yeast
1/4-1/2 cup Honey, to taste
4 Tbs. Butter, softened
2 ½ cups whole milk, warmed
plus extra butter for greasing bowls and pans
1. Proof yeast in ½ cup warm water, about 10 minutes, in bottom of mixing bowl. When foamy, loosely mix in remaining ingredients with wooden spoon, just to roughly combine.
2. Attach dough hook (the “Cap’n Cook” attachment, around these parts), and knead dough on medium speed for 5-8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
3. Grease a large bowl with butter. Scrape dough from bowl, shape into ball, place in bowl, cover with clean dishcloth, and let rise in warmish spot for at least 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Overnight works quite nicely.
4. (Next morning, if you’re me…) Deflate dough, shape again into a ball, and let rise 15 minutes, covered. While rising, butter your two loaf pans.
5. Shape dough: The idea here is to make a rectangle of your dough, then fold both long sides toward the middle, business-letter fashion, and place in the pan seam-side down. I prefer to do this in mid-air, with damp hands, and with gravity as my aid (less clean-up, less added flour). Traditionally, you would flour a surface, then press it into the aforementioned shapes and folds. Repeat to form second loaf.
6. Cover and let rise, in loaf pan, 1 hour. Fire up your oven to 350° toward the end of this hour.
7. Bake at 350° for approximately 45 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
8. Try to wait at least 12 seconds before slicing it open and slathering it with butter. Experts recommend waiting one hour. Good luck with that.