I want to talk about Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread and share a recipe with you. I’ve been trying to become a little more self-sufficient, which I encourage everyone to do. I’ve got a garden, and I bike to work, but I’m here to tell you that there’s more than one way to be sustainable.
Try different things and see what works for you. I decided, after one too many grocery store trips involving 30 minutes scanning bread loaf bags for their ingredients, and being utterly disheartened, to make my own bread. If you are a vegan, you know that lots of bread has milk, and sometimes honey in it. If you’re not, you know that lots of bread has crazy ingredients you can’t even pronounce in it. Plenty of women (and men!) before me have made their own bread, so surely I could too, right?
Here’s where Mr. Reinhart’s book comes in. I have made bread before and it’s a pretty magical experience when it works out. When it doesn’t, it can galvanize you to try again. It never seems to make you want to quit, though. After gleaning a few recipes here and there, I was given the aforementioned book. It has won the James Beard Foundation Book Award and the IACP Cookbook Award. But who cares if it’s not readable, right? Here’s a few reasons why this book is great:
- Pictures, pictures, pictures. With bread making, you need to have a visual aid, and this book’s got it.
- Lot’s of technical information that informs and doesn’t put me to sleep.
- Step by step recipes with a time-line. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that some breads take days.
- An introduction that shows me how passionate the author is about his art. Who cares if he doesn’t!
- It’s minor, but the recipes aren’t clear on which breads to score and which breads to leave alone
- It’s not a vegan cookbook, though many of the breads are – note that I have to adjust the recipe below to make it vegan
I veganized this recipe, which originally contained powdered milk.
Light Wheat Bread (from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice)
2 1/2 C unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 T + 1 1/2 t sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t instant yeast
2 T shortening or Earth Balance (room temperature)
1/2 C water (room temperature)
3/4 C non-dairy milk (room temperature)
1. In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt, sugar, and yeast together. Add the shortening, water, and non-dairy milk. Stir until the ingredients form a ball. If there is flour in the bottom of the bowl, add more water until the dough is soft. It should not feel too stiff.
2. Sprinkle bread or wheat flour on the counter and knead the dough. Add more flour if it is too soft or more water if it is too tough. Kneading can take 10 minutes or more (it took me 26 minutes). The dough should pass the windowpane test(this handy visual aid from The Kitchn should help). It’s pretty hard to over-knead dough by hand, so don’t worry about that. If you’re one of the fortunate one’s using you’re Kitchen-Aid mixer and dough hook, check it about every 5 minutes or so. Once you’re good to go, place bread in a lightly oiled bowl (preferably glass) and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Sit the bowl somewhere slightly warm, but basically out of the way of drafts. Let rise until doubled in size 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl and press it into a 8×6″ rectangle that’s 3/4″ thick. Starting with the short side, roll the loaf up. It will get a little longer, and that’s okay. If the ends have become tapered, square them off a bit with your hands. Place the dough into an oiled bread pan and lightly mist the top with spray oil (spray canola oil works). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 F with the rack in the middle. Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake about 20-30 minutes more until the bread is golden. When it comes out of the the pan it should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool 2 hours before slicing.
*Store at room temperature in a plastic bag or freeze for later use.