Every superhero has a backstory. A tragic tale to explain who they were, so that you can fully appreciate the weight of who they have become. Their past shaped the human inside of them and their newfound power catapults them into saving humanity, whether they are ready and willing or not.
This is my backstory:
I have three growing boys who are hungry. All the time.
That’s it. My backstory is short, but powerful. Powerful, because it forced this mere mortal of a mom to forge a weapon against said hunger. And that weapon is…. you guessed it (thank you giant picture and obvious title): bread.
This soup is good, but it needs a little something more…. BOOM! Slice it thick and smear it with butter.
I love croutons in my salad, but they’re so loaded with unpronounceable ingredients…. KAPOW! Slice into cubes, toss with olive oil and seasoning and bake at 350. Best croutons ever.
I would love to have burgers tonight but don’t feel like running to the store to buy tasteless white buns… KAZAM! Shape half the dough into 6 hamburger buns and STILL have a loaf of bread beside.
It’s the end of the grocery budget month but I would love a weekend dessert… BAM! Freeze the heels from the end of the loaf as you go. Once the bag is full, you are just an hour away from some amazing bread pudding.
Sandwiches for school lunch, French toast, breadcrumbs for meatloaf and meatballs, garlic bread for spaghetti night… all better with homemade bread. And this recipe is so simple and adaptable, you’ll use it forever. I make it a few times a week. Aside from saving our budget bacon, it’s training our boys’ taste buds to appreciate quality. Super. Hero.
Notes before you start: I love King Arthur’s white whole wheat for the wheat portion and organic white all-purpose flour from Costco for the white, but I’ve used almost every other kind of flour in existence as well. I am not kidding when I say this is adaptable. Use all wheat, all white, or any combination. I like all wheat, especially when I can let the dough sit and soak in the moisture for the day. For the oil, you can use olive, avocado, canola… just know that if you use something wild like sesame, the bread will taste like sesame. I use honey to sweeten, but you can use maple syrup or sugar just as easily. When you knead, whether by hand or by Kitchen Aid, knead it till the cows come home (this is how bread goes from crumby to soft). I prefer to raise bread in a glass bowl… I’ve had bad luck with stainless steel. And last, but not least: I use stoneware loaf pans, but foil works exactly the same.
Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
(Makes 2 loaves)
Add to bowl in the following order:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one packet)
2 C warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 Tablespoon salt
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C honey
3 C whole wheat flour
2- 2 1/2 C white flour (start with 2 C, add in 1/4 C portions if dough is ridiculously sticky)
Knead like you’ve never kneaded before! I turn on the Kitchen Aid with the dough hook attachment and empty the dishwasher. Then let out the dogs. Then go check on laundry. Then run to the store… Okay, not that long. But you really want it kneaded well.
Oil a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough grow to twice it’s size, an hour at the very least… The longer it rests, the better it will be. If you want to let it sit overnight, pop it in the fridge. Lately, I’ll start the dough around 8 or 9 in the morning and let this step rest until 4 in the afternoon.
Divide the dough in half for your two loaves. At this point, shape your buns if that’s what you’re choosing to do, but do it BEFORE you squash all of the air bubbles out. Nobody likes flat buns. If you are making sandwich bread, you want no bubbles. I knead each half of dough and then use a rolling pin to get out any remaining air. Tightly roll the dough into a loaf and place it in your greased loaf pans. Oil the top of the loaves or buns and set them aside to grow to not quite double their size, about 45 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake sandwich bread for 30 minutes, buns for 17 minutes. Let rest in the pans for 10-15 minutes before you pop the bread out on to a cooling rack.
Once the bread is completely cooled, I like to freeze one loaf to have later in the week. Or the next day, if the first one was eaten entirely at supper… Wrap it first in plastic wrap, then place in a Ziploc freezer bag. Get ALL of the air out before sealing. Air is the enemy when you are freezing your precious homemade food!
There you have it! Homemade bread. Like a pioneering superhero.