Farmhouse Whole Wheat Flax Bread
I ran across a website called FarmgairlFare, this is a great and very heart warming site filled with fun pictures of a 240-acre farm (if only I could be so lucky) and all of the fun animals on the farm. There are also some great recipes, among them, a very detailed step-by-step tutorial on making Farmhouse White Sandwich Bread. I closed my eyes and tried it, and what do you know? It worked! My family gobbled it down!!! I took some to the neighbor, who had just had a baby, and they gobbled it down. Now I make a variation of this recipe about once a week. It makes 3 loaves, and you can vary it easily to suit your needs. I am not a white bread kinda farmgal, I love good whole wheat bread. I also love flax seeds in my bread, so I add some of those to the recipe.
Here is a link to the basic recipe, I will post my variation and you can decide where you want to start. It's great bread, easy to make and it makes enough for a week for our family and usually a loaf to share. Make sure you read through the FarmgirlFare instructions before you start, she has a lot of great tips and pointers. I bought the bread pans that she recommended, and they will last me a very long time, I love how heavy they are. You can get them at any good baking store (I picked mine up at Orson Gygi in SLC), and they are well worth the money.
I think that one of the greatest advantages to making your own bread is the knowledge that you gain by doing it often. I know that I will always be able to provide my family with a great loaf of bread. I also love how grounding this is. Nothing brings you back down to earth like kneading dough by hand. It gives you time to think, some dough to beat up if you are upset, and something hot and delicious to serve the ones you love. I hope that my farmhands remember hot homemade bread when they are grown and away from home...it might just bring them home every now and then!!!
FARMHOUSE WHOLE WHEAT FLAX BREAD
adapted from FarmgirlFare.com
Makes 3 loaves, about 1 1/2 pounds each
2 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1/3 cup flax seeds
1 1/2 tbsp* instant yeast
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
4 cups warm water (about 85º F)
About 6 cups organic bread (high gluten) flour
1 1/2 tbsp salt
*To bake an even better loaf, you can reduce the amount of yeast to 1 tbsp (or even less). This will make your dough rise more slowly, so you'll need to increase the rising times. You can reduce the yeast in pretty much any bread recipe; a lot of bakers go by the formula, "half the yeast, half the rising time".
MIXING AND FERMENTATION (first rise)
In a very large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, flax seeds, yeast, and sugar. Make a small well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the oil and water.
Mix well, and then continue to stir vigorously, slowly adding 1 cup of the bread flour at a time, until you have added about 4 cups and have a sticky, shaggy dough; this should take several minutes.
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel (not terry cloth) and let rest for 20 minutes. This rest period is called autolyse.
Add the salt and 1 more cup of bread flour and stir it in the best you can. Add another cup of bread flour if the dough is still to sticky to knead. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it with floured hands until the dough is soft and smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes (it's a good arm workout!)
As you're kneading, sprinkle a little more flour at a time as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands or the work surface. You want the dough to be as soft as possible without being sticky; you may not need the entire 6 cups of bread flour (I only ever use about 4 cups - it has a lot to do with humidity), or you may need a little extra.
Sprinkle flour in the dough bowl, place the dough in it, liberally dust it with flour, and cover it with a damp tea towel.
Set the dough somewhere that is preferably between 70º and 75º F until it has doubled in size, about 60 to 75 minutes. Ideally, the dough itself should be between 70º and 75ºF. It's fine if your dough is cooler; it'll just take longer to rise and will end up tastier.
When the dough is ready to be shaped, you should be able to push a floured finger deep into it and leave and indentation that doesn't spring back.
SHAPING AND PROOFING (second rise)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flattening gently with your hands to break up any large air bubbles. Divide the dough into three equal pieces. I find that my kitchen scale is very helpful for getting even loaves.
If you are using a baking stone, put it in the cold oven now and heat the oven to 375º.
Shape the dough into loaves. Place the loaves, seam side down in greased loaf pans and dust them with flour.
Cover the loaves with a damp tea towel and let them rise until the dough springs back when you gently poke it with a floured finger, about 40 to 60 minutes.
Bake at 375º for 35 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped (you need to carefully take the loaf out of the pan to check this). Remove the finished loaves immediately from the pans and let them cool on a wire rack. The bread will continue to bake while it is cooling, so try to wait at least 40 minutes (it's hard...it smells SO GOOD!!!) before cutting into a loaf.
Store at room temperature or freeze in zipper freezer bags. Make sure the loaves are completely cooled before sealing in bags.
YOUR HOUSE WILL SMELL SO GOOD!!!