Plain Wheat Bread

Thanks to the bitter cold that’s swept PA, this week’s budget has to be stretched a little thinner than normal to accommodate a killer gas bill.  The cheapest way to stretch a meal plan without feeling like you’re restricting what you’re eating (a budget can be the worst kind of diet) is to pack it with carbs!!  And so, to prepare for a couple weeks of sandwiches, I spent most of this morning baking some whole wheat bread.

This recipe is really simple with few ingredients.  If you don’t have any whole wheat flour on hand, you can replace all of the flour listed with 5 cups of bread flour, and you’ll get a plain white bread.  This bread isn’t quick, but it’s one of those dishes that you can walk away from and only have to think about it every half hour or so (so a good weekend project), and I can’t think of anything better on a bone-chilling January Sunday than the smell of fresh, hot baking bread filling my apartment! 😀

Plain Wheat Bread: (yields 2 loaves)

Plain Wheat Bread

Equipment:

  • Stand Mixer (can be made by hand easily though), dry and liquid measuring cups, measuring spoons, rubber spatula, a large bowl, a medium bowl, a damp (but clean) kitchen towel, some paper towels, a spoon, a small bowl, 2 9×5 bread pans, large knife, oven

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dry, active yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups warm water (approx 110 F)
  • 1/4 canola oil, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 3 Tbsp water (for egg wash)
  • 2 Tbsp quick whole oats (optional)

Directions:

1) Dissolve the sugar in the warm water in your mixing bowl.  Add the yeast, cover, and let proof for 4-5 mins until mixture looks frothy and creamy.  In the meantime, measure out all of the rest of your ingredients and grease up the large bowl and your baking pans with some of the oil.  Mix the two flours together in the medium bowl.  Make the egg wash in the small bowl.  When your done setting up, if the mixture does not look different (there’s no foam, just yeast in water), then your yeast is dead, and you’ll have to start over with new, livelier yeast.

2) Turn the mixer on a low speed and add the salt and oil.  Add the flour slowly to the mixture until it’s all gone.  Mix on medium low until the dough starts to take shape (should happen quickly once you add the last of the flour).

3) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured table-top and knead the dough for 2-3 mins.  Move dough to the well greased large bowl, and turn the dough over a time or two to make sure it’s well coated.  Cover with the damp kitchen towel and let rise for about an hour.

4) After the dough has risen for an hour (it should have doubled in size in this time), punch down the dough, and then knead it another 30 seconds. Cut the dough in half.  Form the dough into loaves and let them rise again, this time in the baking pans, for another 30 mins.

5) Once the dough has risen until the loaves peak out over the pans by about an inch, preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spoon the egg wash from the small bowl over the loaves and spread it to make sure they are well covered.  Sprinkle a Tbsp of quick oats over each loaf if desired and top with another coating of egg wash.  Bake the loaves on a center rack for 30 mins.

6) ENJOY!!

What to drink? Mint and Orange Tea

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