We have been having a bread renaissance, a bread revival, a celebration of crusty warm grains fresh from the oven. In the past month I have cooked boules, olive bread, oatmeal bread, baguettes, Challah, french bread, soda bread, shaped bread.... you get the picture. Every night with dinner we've sampled another one of my creations. As a breadophile, I have been in heaven, till my blood sugar recently crashed. I have to go off carbs for awhile to re regulate and regain my energy. But like any self respecting addict, I think about my addiction constantly while drying out.
Since I cannot make it today, I am going to write about my favorite everyday bread, the castle's serf bread. It is perfect for sandwiches, for homemade chokecherry jelly, for toast. Mmmmm.
I went on a search for the perfect every day bread and learned a lot of things like what ingredients make the bread soft, chewy, or light. After sampling dozens of recipes, I found one that was almost perfect at Blue Yonder. I tweaked it a bit for my taste with gluten and the steam method, and found my perfection. Shortening makes it really soft, but is unhealthy. At Wild Oats, and in the health food section of my grocery store I found a shortening product that has 0 trans fats and is non-hydrogenated. Butter flavored would be even better, but I don't have any on shelf currently. Pictures of the steam method are posted on the dinner blog for Soda Bread. I hope someone out there in cyberspace makes this amazing bread and enjoys it for me while I am unable.
The Castle's Serf Bread
2 T warm water
1 1/2 t yeast
1/2 t sugar
1 1/2 cups bread flour
2 c whole wheat flour
3 t vital wheat gluten
1/4 c health food store shortening
1/4 c honey
1 c warm water
1 t salt
In a small cup combine water with yeast and sugar. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, in a large bowl pour yeast mixture, water, flours, shortening, honey and salt. Using an electric mixer or food processor, blend until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
Mix (knead) for 5 minutes. The dough should no longer be sticky, but smooth and elastic. If you push your fingers in, the hole should refill itself quickly.
Remove the dough and place in a clean bowl that has been greased lightly with oil. Turn dough over in bowl. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Punch down to eliminate bubbles. Spray or grease 9x4 or 5 inch loaf pan. Shape dough into a loaf and place in pan. Let rise in warm spot till doubled in size. I usually let it rise for 30-40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a broiler pan on the lowest shelf. When oven is preheated, pour 1 cup of water in the lower pan when you put the bread in. Bake for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped lightly on top.
This recipe makes only 1 loaf so you'd better double or triple it so some is ready in the freezer.