First of all, dude, it’s hot. Ok- it’s not unseasonably hot. Jerusalem is meant to be 82 degrees F today, on average, and that’s precisely what it is. But kicking on a hot oven to bake bread in the middle of the day? Who wants to do that? ME. I bake when it’s hot, cold, steamy and chilly. This bread is delicious- warm and straight out of the oven, but is just as good frozen in slices, and toasted straight from the freezer. I had three pieces with my flipped eggs this morning. Doused in excessive amounts of salt. Runny in the middle. The eggs, not the toast. That would be weird.
Moving on? Mk.
White or Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
This recipe is adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day– a great book that I admit I don’t yet own, but have found a lot of help from their website. I used white flour this time around, simply because I like white toast. I found it to be a dense, but delightful crumb with a sweet honey after thought. Artisan Bread in Five uses the age-old baking concept of large batches of dough that keep cold in the fridge for about a week. Whenever you are ready for a fresh loaf, just pinch off enough dough, rise a bit, and bake it up! It’s a great way to always have dough on hand for whenever a fresh pizza or cinnamon bun craving strikes. This recipe makes enough for about 4 loaves of bread.
1 1⁄2 tbsp granulated yeast (1 1⁄2 packets)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
5 tbsp neutral-flavored oil like canola, plus more for greasing the pan
3 cups lukewarm water
6 2⁄3 cups whole wheat or all-purpose white flour, sifted
1. Mix the yeast, salt, honey, oil, and water in a 5-quart bowl or other container.
2. Mix in the sifted flour using a spoon, or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook.
3. Cover loosely, and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top); about 2 to 3 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded container with a hole in the top, or your initial bowl with a plastic bag loosely tied over top. You want a bit of air to be able to escape, but not dry out the dough. Use within a weeks time.
5. On baking day, lightly grease a 9-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pan. Using wet hands, scoop out a 11⁄2 pound (cantaloupe-sized) hunk of dough. Gently work the dough with your wet hands, pulling the sides under and tucking underneath the ball, forming a tight mound with a slight rectangular shape to fit in the loaf pan.
6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan. You’ll want enough dough to fill the pan slightly more than half-full.
7. Let the dough rise for roughly an hour and a half if you are using it cold from the fridge, and slightly less than an hour if using fresh dough straight from mixing. Cover the dough lightly with plastic to keep moist.
8. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) about half an hour before baking.
9. Bake your loaf for about an hour, less if you use a convection feature like me. The bread will rise in the oven and become a caramel brown color. To check if your bread is fully done, you can flip it out of the loaf pan (use a towel or oven mitt- it’s hot!) near the end of baking and knock on the bottom with a knuckle. If it sounds hollow in all points, it is done. It should not be gummy, and the bottom should be a light brown color.
10. Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. It can be tempting to jump the gun at this point and hack away at the loaf, as warm bread is soo yummy. But if you give it time to cool, the pieces will hold up, and the inside won’t be gummy. Gummy does NOT equal yummy.
This bread will keep for a day or two, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag at room temperature. I like to keep a few pieces out to eat that day and double-wrap the remaining pieces in plastic and freeze for future use.