Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pat's Bread

Pat has been a family friend for as long time.  Even as a small child, I remember being in awe of her kindness, her generosity, her creativity... and her energy!  The woman is unstoppable.  Despite the fact that she always seems to be on the go, she also has a special talent for hospitality and thoughtful gift-giving.  I've never seen her arrive anywhere empty handed.  She never forgot birthdays and alway sent the "coolest" gifts when we were children.  When I think of women of faith that inspire me, Pat is on my Top Ten list. 
This past summer, Pat and her husband were able to make a trip to our farm for a tour. It was wonderful to see them again!  They had many words of wisdom to pass on, as she and her husband have been gardening and preserving food for many more years than I have.  I delighted in hearing Pat's stories of growing up on a farm herself.  These are memories and stories that need to be preserved. 
Of course, Pat showed up with gifts.  Of course!  She brought small toys and books for my children and canning supplies for me (she knows me well!).  Also, she brought a loaf of sandwich bread, which was quite possibly the best bread I have ever devoured (yeah, I may have eaten the whole loaf myself...).
I simply had to have the recipe, so Pat kindly sent it my way.  For the past few months, I have been tweaking the recipe a bit, sometimes sucessful, sometimes not.  I wanted a bread that was made of 100% whole wheat, but I've discovered it's difficult to make a soft, tasty whole wheat sandwich bread.  I figure mostly whole wheat is better than none.  I still have not perfected the recipe (I think Pat has magical hands that make everything taste fabulous), but I'm pretty happy with it.  Here is the recipe, with my changes:
  • 8 cups of flour ( at least 1-2 cups of bread flour AND then the remaining flour either whole wheat flour OR white whole wheat flour OR a combination of the two)
  • 2 tbsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup honey OR brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil OR butter
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 large egg
1.  Mix the whole wheat flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid mixer).  Slowly stir in the water, honey, coconut oil/butter, and egg.  Then add the groud flaxseed and half of the bread flour.
2.  Stir all ingredients until mixed.  Knead dough on a floured surface, using up the remaining bread flour.  Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes in a mixer, 10 minutes by hand.
3.  Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size).
4.  Punch down dough and divide into thirds.  Shape into loaves and let rise in the bread pans for 30-45 minutes (or until the dough rises above the top of the pan about an inch or two).
5.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. 
-End results depend on the flour you use.  You can use more bread flour if you're not a huge whole wheat bread fan. I had the most sucess using King Arthur Whole Wheat flour.  The King Arthur White Whole Wheat is nice too (white whole wheat is still 100% whole wheat).  Recently, I purchased a 50 pound bag of Whole Wheat Pastry flour and was disappointed to discover that it did not work well for the bread, despite my many attempts.  Oh well!  It's fabulous for for everything else - cookies, pancakes, biscuits, tortillas, etc.
-This recipe makes 3 loaves of bread.  I've found that the size of the bread pan can make a big difference.  I prefer smaller bread pans, which are hard to find (I found mine at a garage sale).  Smaller pans create a taller loaf, more like bread you would buy at the store.
-Dinner rolls - Often, I will make make 2 loaves of bread and turn the third piece of dough into rolls.  Simply pull apart the dough into pieces and roll them into balls.  Place the dough balls in a baking pan to rise alongside your bread.  Reduce the baking time by about 10 minutes (keep on eye on them, as oven temperatures and times vary.  They are done when golden brown on top.)
-Cinnamon Swirl Bread - A special treat!  This bread makes stellar french toast, or just eat toasted with butter.  Simply follow the bread recipe from above, but add an extra egg yolk to the dough.  After the first rise,  punch down the dough and divide into thirds.  Take one section (1/3) of dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface, about 8 inches wide and 24 inches long.  Spoon all of the filling onto dough and spread evenly.  Starting at the short end, carefully roll the dough, tucking in the sides to keep the filling from spilling out.  Pinch the seam and place dough in a greased pan.  Let rise again before baking.
Filling Recipe:  Combine the following ingredients-
-1 large egg white (you already put the yolk in with the bread dough)
-2/3 cups brown sugar, sucanant or maple sugar (our favorite!)
- 2 tbsps flour
-1 tbsp cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla extract

A special thanks to Pat for sharing this great recipe!  Happy bread baking!

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