My kitchen smells so amazing right now! This morning, I made an oatmeal crumb cake, started a beef roast in the slow cooker, with onions and barley for tonight’s soup, and baked a loaf of honey wheat bread. We finished up our last loaf of bakery thrift store bread, and because of the Pantry Challenge, my bread machine is now occupying a permanent spot on my kitchen counter:
o save money, I used to make bread frequently. I stopped when I discovered that I could buy our favorite sandwich bread at a great price from the bakery thrift store, without so much work. However, the thrift store recently raised their prices significantly, and did away with their coupon program, so I’m back to baking again.
For me, the problem with bread making is that it just takes too much time and kneading. I thought that I could solve this problem by getting a bread machine, so I asked for one for Christmas. I was disappointed in the loaves it made, not because they didn’t taste good, but they were an odd square shape, and the dough hook always got stuck in the bottom, leaving a big hole in the bread when I tried to remove it.
I learned that I could still use my bread machine to reduce the time and effort involved in bread making. The trick is to use the dough cycle to do all the hard work for you, and then bake the bread in the oven to achieve a beautifully shaped loaf, suitable for sandwiches. Here’s how to do it:
First, gather up all of your supplies:
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoons oil (olive or canola)
1 tablespoon powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flax meal (you can purchase this at Wal-Mart, but I just grind whole flax seeds with a coffee grinder because it’s cheaper)
3 tablespoons wheat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional) – this greatly improves the texture of whole grain breads, and extends shelf life. It will add only 12 cents to the cost of each loaf, but I think it’s worth it.
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Place ingredients in your bread machine pan in the order listed, making a little well for the yeast to rest in:
Put the bread pan in the machine, and select the “Dough” cycle, for a 1.5 pound loaf. When the cycle is complete, remove the dough from the pan, and place it on a lightly floured surface. I actually prefer to use a Silpat
because I can spray my hands with a little cooking spray, and shape the loaf easily. No extra flour is necessary, because the silicone prevents the dough from sticking. Shape the dough into a uniform, loaf-like shape, like this:
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bread pan. Cover with a damp towel, and let rest in a warm place, until doubled in size. This can take up to an hour, depending on how warm it is in your house. If you poke the top of the loaf with two fingers, and the dents remain, the loaf has risen enough. When ready, it will look like this:
With a sharp knife, cut a slit in the top of the loaf, within 2 inches of each end (this is optional – I just do it because it gives the bread a “split-top wheat” look). Bake in a preheated, 375-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. The finished bread will be golden brown and will sound hollow when tapped: