One of my new years resolutions (there are many, because there’s so much room for improvement) was to start eating better. Not just eating healthier foods in order to lose weight, but improving my whole relationship with food. I have the quintessential pudgy girl love/hate relationship with food. I really love food, so I eat way too much of it, and then I hate what it does to me. I want to put more of my heart into preparing quality meals, in order to gain more satisfaction from eating them. I figure that if I really thoroughly experience and enjoy my meals, then I shouldn’t have the desire to eat so much crap (processed, preserved, and prepackaged foods) throughout the day. We’ll see how long this lasts.
Determined to take a stab at this whole thing, I decided late last night that I would get up this morning and bake bread. After clearing the counter of dirty dishes this morning (Ad’s away, so the build up got to a pretty embarrassing point by most people’s standards), I put on my newest and cutest vintage apron, a Christmas gift from Ad’s grandma. And in case you’re judging me for looking so adorable so early in the morning, you should know that I was wearing pajamas and badly needed a shower. On to the bread recipe! I’m not sure where it came from originally, but I found it in one my mom’s old recipe boxes the last time I was home. Apparently she was quite the chef before I came along and demanded all of her attention.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread – makes 2 loaves
4 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 Tablespoon salt
2 packages dry yeast
3 cups water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons oil of your choice
4 – 4 1/2 cups white flour
1. In your biggest mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk, 1/2 cup of honey, and 2 packages of dry yeast.
2. On the stove top, warm up 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of honey, and 2 tablespoons of oil.
3. Pour the warm liquid over the flour mixture, and beat for 3 minutes with an electric mixer.
4. Stir in 1 cup of whole wheat flour by hand, and 4 – 4 1/2 cups of white flour. I stirred in one cup at a time, to make things easier on myself.
5. Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes, or until your arms fall off. Fold in half, squash, quarter turn, fold in half, squash, quarter turn, fold in half, and so on………. This is seriously a great bicep workout. Beat that dough into submission.
6. Place the dough in a greased bowl and let rise. Once risen, punch the dough down. It shouldn’t take more than an hour to rise, and you’ll know when it has. Mine popped up above the rim of the bowl, and the base of the bowl was warm to the touch due to the yeast doing it’s sciencey things. If you punch the dough down quickly enough, you’ll get a lovely hissing noise from the air escaping.
7. Separate the dough into two equal balls, shape, and place in two 9×5 inch loaf pans. It probably doesn’t hurt to grease and flour those pans a bit, although it didn’t say to in the recipe.
8. Bake at 375 degrees F, for 40-45 minutes.
Nothing smells better than baking bread, and it turned out perfectly! One loaf went directly into the freezer once it cooled. It’s done up in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, so it should be safe like that for 2 or 3 months. I sliced off a warm chunk of the second loaf, slathered it with some deliciously seasoned soft cheese that my friend Evan made me for Christmas and was immediately transported to food heaven.
And then a second piece smothered in home made elderberry jelly from my friend Brenda. This is how people were meant to eat. Healthy, hearty, and home made.
I think I’m well on my way to reinventing my relationship with food.