Making Bread from Scratch

Taking yeast, flour and water to make delicious homemade bread wasn’t something we tackled in the Pure Prairie Eating Plan, mainly because it’s a bit more complicated and takes longer than the typical recipes we wanted to focus on.  However, if you do have a bit of time, making bread from scratch is a satisfying chore and yields a delicious product.  In this article, we’ll profile two bread recipes, one for “every day” toast and sandwiches, and one a crusty French-style loaf that’s great with stews, pasta dishes or chili.

 

Whole-Wheat Bread with Honey

(adapted from The Flavours of Canada by Anita Stewart.  Anita recommends borage honey, a prairie specialty.)  Makes 2 large loaves.  Allow about 4 hours.

 

2 ¾ cup lukewarm water 675 mL

1/3 cup borage honey 75 mL

1 Tbsp active dry yeast 15 mL

3/8 cup canola oil 90 mL

1 Tbsp salt 15 mL

1 cup all-purpose flour 250 mL

6 – 6 ½ whole-wheat flour 1.5 – 1.6 L

 

1.  Combine water and honey in a large warmed blow, stirring to dissolve the honey.  Sprinkle with yeast and let sit 10 minutes or until foamy.

2.  Whisk in oil, salt and all-purpose flour.  Beat well.

3.  Let rise until puffy, 30-60 minutes.

4.  Stir in enough of the whole-wheat flour to make a soft dough.  Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead in remaining flour.  Continue to knead 2-3 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.  (Total kneading time 10-15 minutes.)

5.  Cover with a tea towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 90 minutes.

6.  Punch down and let rise again for 15 minutes.

7.  Punch down and cut in half, shaping each half into a loaf.

8.  Place in well-greased 9”x5” (2 L) loaf pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.

9.  Bake in a preheated 350 oF (180 oC) oven 30-35 minutes or until richly golden brown.

10.  Remove bread from pans while hot and cool on a wire rack 15-20 minutes before slicing.

 

Nutritional information (per slice, based on 20 slices per loaf, including crusts):

110 kcal, 3 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat,  18 g carbohydrate, 2 g fibre, 3 g protein, 178 mg sodium.  Canada’s Food Guide servings: 1 Grain Products.

 

Pain Ordinaire

(adapted from The Chez Piggy Cookbook.  Chez Piggy is a restaurant and bakery in Kingston, Ontario.)  Makes 2 baguette-style loaves.  This recipe is made over 3 days.  Sea salt is recommended; if you use table salt, cut back to 2 tsp.  Likewise, hard white flour for bread will yield a loaf more like authentic French baguette but regular all-purpose flour can be substituted*.  In this version, whole-wheat flour is substituted for half of the white flour.

 

Day 1 – Starter

1 Tbsp active dry yeast 15 mL

2 cups warm water 500 mL

2 cups unbleached hard white flour* 500 mL

 

1.  Into a 2L bowl, stir yeast into water until dissolved.

2.  Gradually add flour, stirring until well mixed.

3.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 

Day 2 – Dough

1 Tbsp active dry yeast 15 mL

1 cup warm water 250 mL

starter from Day 1

pinch ascorbic acid crystals OR

¼ tsp (1 mL) lemon juice

2 cups unbleached hard white flour* 500 mL

2-3 cups whole-wheat flour 500-750 mL

1 Tbsp sea salt 15 mL

 

1.  In a large bowl, stir yeast into water.  Add starter and ascorbic acid or lemon juice.

2.  Add white and whole-wheat flour 1 cup (250 mL) at a time, up to 4 cups (1 L).  Reserve 1 cup (250 mL) flour for kneading the dough.

3.  Blend with a hand mixer on low speed until you have a rough dough.  Scrape out onto a well-floured work surface.

4.  Sprinkle salt over top and knead, gradually incorporating up to 1 cup (250 mL) more flour.  The kneaded dough should be silky and satiny but slightly sticky.  Resist adding too much flour.

5.  Place in a large oiled bowl.  Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

 

Day 3 – Finished Loaf

1.  Remove dough from the refrigerator and punch down.  Divide dough in two.

2.  Either shape by hand into free-form loaves or place in loaf pans.

3.  Let rise at room temperature for 1.5-2 hours, until almost double in size.  When the loaves are about three-quarters risen, slash tops of loaves with a razor blade or sharp knife.

4.  Preheat oven to 450 oF (230 oC).

5.  Just before you put the bred into the oven, place a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack.  Bake loaves for 10 minutes.

6.  Reduce heat to 375 oF (190 oC) and remove pan of water.  Continue to bake for 30-35 minutes.

 

Helpful tips:

*Ideally, you want to begin baking the loaves before they have doubled in size, otherwise they will fall when they come into contact with the heat.

*Check loaves throughout the baking process, and if they get too dark on top, cover loosely with aluminum foil.  If you are baking the bread in loaf pans, turn the loaves out onto the oven rack, bottoms up or on sides, for the last 10 minutes to brown up bottom and sides.

 

Nutritional information (per 2 slices, based on 30 slices per loaf, including crusts):

98 kcal, 1 g fat, 0.2 g saturated fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 1.4 g fibre, 4 g protein, 237 mg sodium.  Canada’s Food Guide servings: 1 Grain Products.