Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Honey Wheat Bread

It was on a day, not too far ago, that I fell down one of those infamous Internet rabbit holes. Through a series of twists and turns, I found myself looking at a defense of kneading bread. Having tried no-knead bread making with so-so success, I was curious as to how different a kneaded bread could be. I printed the recipe, ensured I had the needed ingredients (more on that in a sentence) and got started.

A challenge immediately presented itself - I did not have enough whole wheat flour. Hmm. Covering the remaining balance of whole wheat flour with all-purpose would not make that much of a difference, would it? In confidence, I mixed my flours, melted my butter and honey mixture and got to kneading for the requisite 10 minutes. Problems immediately arose. The dough was stuck to the counter and, more importantly, to my hands. I feared the dough was sentient and I would slowly be subsumed into the yeast borg or something. A lot of "dustings" of flour later (read: 1-2 cups more), the dough was mostly contained and had that elastic, non-Blob look to it. Rise time! (Note: photo below shows about 1/5 the amount of dough that was stuck on hand prior to cleaning.)

And boy how it rose. The dough's sentience was once again considered. I quickly squashed that idea by punching down the dough and placing it into the loaf pan to rise again. One hour later and I think my dough was about to have little loaf babies. It was huge. I named it mega-bread. I probably should have split the dough in two, but why have two loaves when you can have one loaf of mega-bread, right? 

Thankfully, the baking solidified the ever-expanding bread and we ate. Very good, if a little dry. I wonder why...

Cut to this week. Honey Wheat Bread, attempt #2. This time with the proper amount of whole wheat flour, and a quick prayer that Aaron would not find a dough wife when he returned home. I began to smile when I started kneading. No dough hands! I could move it on the counter and, you know, knead! I love kneading when my hands are free from the yeast borg! Kneading was this great intuitive moment when I had to use my senses to figure out if and when my dough was ready - when tacky turns to sticky and I need flour, when elasticity is perfect and I should step away from the dough. 

A rest, a punch down, and another rest, and the dough was luxuriating in the oven, transforming into bread. I found every ounce of self control in my body and did not tear into the loaf the moment it came out of the oven. I may have snagged a slice and buttered it, though. This time yielded a normal-sized loaf, better crumb, less dense, and a recipe Aaron demands be made weekly. 

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