Monday, March 14, 2011

The Need to Knead… by Barbara (Ruth)

I love to make bread. And I am pretty darn good at it too, if I do say so myself.

I learned at my Mother’s knee, back in the day when there were no bread machines, dough hooks, frozen “ready to bake” dough, or KitchenAid appliances (how I lived before mine, I don't know). My sister has a bread machine, and I admit that it makes excellent bread – but I still think it’s cheating. I do, however, use my KitchenAid to do the heavy stirring.

There are three main reasons for my need to knead each weekend:
  1. Bread is my favourite food. I could give up sugar before I could give up bread I think! Really, I’ve never met a loaf of bread I didn’t like – rich crusty sourdough, nutty crunchy rye, or plain old Wonder white sandwich bread. (Don’t judge. Wonder bread, Kraft peanut butter, and Welch’s grape jelly. Heaven.)
  2. The stress-relief of kneading the dough. If you do it properly, it takes a good 10 mins of twisting and smooshing the dough (that’s a technical term) before it’s just the right consistency.
  3. The science of the process! Did you know that yeast is a living organism? Basically it’s asleep in the fridge, activated by water, eats its face off when it comes into contact with sugar, gives off gas as it digests (so rude), and then dies in the oven. Sad, really…
I make bread just about every weekend. Last weekend I tried a new recipe, “Sesame Grain”. It was a heavy and thick dough, requiring serious kneading before it became smooth and felt just right. (Don’t ask what ”just right” is – you just “know” when you’ve been baking bread for a long time.)

Enjoy this recipe. It’s not as hard as you think, and the payoff is soooo worth it. Let me know how you like it! Or better yet, send me your favourite bread recipe. But not if you cheat and use a bread machine. J

Sesame Grain Bread
Adapted from the “Great Breads” recipe book, by Martha Rose Shulman

Wake up the yeast. In a large bowl combine the following, mix well, and place in a warm place for about an hour. It will bubble and double in bulk.
    • 1 T active dry yeast
    • 3 C lukewarm water (if, when you drop some on the inside of your wrist, you can feel it – it’s too hot)
    • 2 T honey
    • 2 T molasses
    • 2 C unbleached white flour
    • 2 C whole wheat flour
    (This next step I do using my KitchenAid and the dough hook.)  Add the following ingredients in order, using the lowest speed.
      • ¼ C vegetable oil
      • 1 T salt (or less if you prefer)
      • ¾ C rolled oats
      • ¾ C sesame seeds (which should first be “cracked”, either by using a mortar, or smacking with a rolling pin between sheets of plastic wrap, or blending just a bit with a food processor – not too much!)
      • 1 C cornmeal
      • 2 – 2 ½ C whole wheat flour
      When the dough holds together in a sticky mass, place a large handful of flour on the counter, and dump the dough onto it. Flour your hands, and begin kneading. Knead, adding more flour whenever it gets sticky (but “just enough” flour… too much will make it crumbly and dry), for about 10 minutes. The dough will become elastic and slightly tacky.

      Shape into a ball, and place it in a clean, slightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place for about an hour (maybe 90 mins) until doubled in size.

      Put dough back on shelf, and divide in two. Knead each portion for a few minutes, form in a loaf shape, and plop in a well buttered bread pan. Punch each loaf down a little to flatten it. Cover with a towel again, and let it rise for another hour or so.

      Bake at 350F for 50-60 mins. The bread will sound hollow when you tap the top with a knuckle.

      Remove from pan immediately and let cool on a rack. Freezes really well, but it won’t last that long, so don’t bother.

      1 comment:

      1. Ruth, bread is my favourite food too! I just got a KitchenAid mixer as a gift and I'll have to try your recipe when I'm back on gluten!