Bread baking has been a big part of my family for as long as I can remember. My Momma makes some fantastic Portuguese White Bread. Whenever she makes it, she makes a lot. Like loaves and loaves of it. When I was a kid I used to watch her pound that dough into submission. When I went to go visit a few months ago I asked her to teach me how to make it.
Momma controlling the dough
My Mom is tiny. She is 4’11”. But she has a lot of spunk. Don’t make her mad, you might regret it. She also has a mean punch and she can handle kneading and punching dough for 10 minutes and not be tired.
I told you she makes a lot of bread
Whenever my Mom makes bread, we would have it for dinner, with butter and American cheese. It was the best dinner ever. Have you ever had freshly baked bread from the oven, slathered in butter and topped with American cheese? I think I may have consumed an entire loaf one time. But that was when I actually had a fast metabolism.
My Mom has a big kitchen, and 14 bread pans. I, on the other hand, have a kitchen a third of the size of my Mom’s and 2 loaf pans. Needless to say, my Mom said she would get back to me about the recipe for making 2 loaves instead of 14.
This, is not my Mom’s bread. It’s delicious Cracked Wheat Loaf from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. This book pretty much changed my life. I had made bread before but it never rose high enough for me and resulted in small, dense bread. Even when I tried The Bread Bible’s White Sandwich Loaf, it still didn’t rise as large as I wanted. Through this, I learned a few things about making bread:
1. No matter what the suggested time for dough is suppose to rise, do not pay attention to it. Let it rise until it is the size it is suppose to be.
2. Homemade bread takes a VERY long time. But because it spends 90% of the time rising, you can pretty much leave your house/apartment or do whatever you need to do and not have to worry about your dough
3. In order to make sure you have the exact measurements, use a scale not a measuring cup. More accurate x1000
4. Homemade bread is 1000x better than store bought bread
This time around, a miracle happened. I made delicious, fully risen, popping over the top amazing bread. I may never buy store bought bread ever again. Maybe. Rose’s method of bread making has a few more steps to it, but I really think it makes the bread so much more tender and tastier. You can just call me a convert.
Cracked Wheat Loaf
Recipe from The Bread Bible
Dough Starter (Sponge)
- 1/2 cup (2.75oz) bread flour
- 1/2 cup (2.5oz) whole wheat flour
- 3/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp nonfat dry milk
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (9.3oz) room temperature water
- 2 cups (11oz) bread flour
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1/2 cup (3oz) extra coarse bulgur(I used milled flax seed since I didn’t have bulgur and it worked fine)
- 1/2-2/3 cup (4-5.5ox) boiling water (Skip if using milled flax seed)
- 1 tbsp granular lecithin or vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp melted butter
Make the Sponge: In a medium bowl combine the sponge ingredients and whisk until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Combine Flour Mixture: In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour mixture ingredients. Sprinkle on top of the sponge to cover it completely. DO NOT MIX TOGETHER. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1-4 hours at room temperature. The sponge will bubble through the mixture, that’s ok, and it’s also kind of cool to see.
At this point, if you are using bulgur, place in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in the water until all the water is absorbed, about 1 hour, then refrigerate until ready to use.
Note: I used a stand mixer for my bread, so the following instructions will be for the stand mixer method. You’ll just have to buy the book yourself if you want to make it by hand!
With your stand mixer, add the bulgur (or in my case the flax seed) and the oil or lecithin to the bowl and then add the dough and starter. Mix with the dough hook on low speed for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on the salt and knead the dough on medium speed for 10 minutes. The dough should be very elastic and jump back when pressed with a fingertip, but still slightly moist.
Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-qt greased container. Lightly spray or oil the top of the dough. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size. The book says about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours but it took about 2-3 hours for me (it’s quite cold in my apartment).
After it has risen, scrape the dough onto a floured surface and press down gently to form a rectangle. Give it a business letter turn, round the edges and return to the container. Oil the surface again, cover, and rise until doubled. The book says about 45 minutes to an hour, but again, it took longer for me.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a loaf. Place into oiled loaf pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until the center is about 1.25″ higher than the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees one hour before baking. Place oven rack at the lowest shelf and place baking stone on top. Place a sheet pan on the floor of the oven and make sure you have some ice cubes handy.
Once the dough has risen, brush the top with the melted butter, then cut a 1/2″ deep slash down the middle of the dough. Quickly set the load pan on the baking stone. Take a 1/2 cup of ice cubes and quickly throw them onto the sheet pan (this helps the bread keep moisture). Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you want to be technical then an instant read thermometer should read 190 degrees. Remove pan from oven, remove bread from pan and set on wire rack. Brush with remaining melted butter. Let it cool before eating.
WHEW! That was intense, right? But believe me, it is worth every single moment, because when you slice into that amazing hunk of bread, you know it was all worth it. Don’t forget to slather it with your favorite jam or serve with butter and cheese.
Posted to Yeastspotting