I was struggling with an idea for my big batch this week. When I thought about what I would really like to eat, I came up with a rather unusual answer for me: Bread. I wanted a nice, hearty, substantial bread that I could have in my lunches this week with hummus, with peanut butter, with a bit of cheese and veggies… I decided to break out of my usual big batch trend, which is to make something that is veggieriffic, and give in to the desire for freshly baked bread.
This led me to my cookbook shelf, and a long neglected book by Martha Rose Shulman. In the book, I found a recipe for Bran Bread that sounded like what I was looking for, and it fared pretty well when I calculated the points. Indeed, it is tasty, and I’m quite happy with it.
I briefly owned a bread machine about ten years ago, but it seemed to have a death wish. One day I left it humming away on the counter, and it lost its balance. During a vigorous kneading cycle, it rocked its way to the edge of the cabinet and took a leap over the edge. It wasn’t a pretty sight. That’s when I resumed my job as the bread machine. That’s ok. I like breadmaking! If you’ve never made bread, I don’t think it is as hard as people sometimes make it out to be. If you have fresh yeast, and treat it nicely, you should end up with something good. It does take awhile and a bit of patience, but I usually find plenty of things to keep me busy while the dough is rising. Last night, I spent part of that time in the gym!
There are lots of great recipes in this cookbook. I’m so glad that I pulled it off the shelf and spent some time flipping through it. It has been a long time! Here is my recipe based on the one in the book:
Bran Bread from Great Breads by Martha Rose Shulman
1 packet (about 2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup wheat bran
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups in both my loaf and my points calculation)
1. Combine the yeast and water in large mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast, then add the honey and let it sit for 10 minutes to allow it to become creamy.
2. Using an electric mixer: Combine bran, whole wheat flour, salt and 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour in a bowl and mix well.
After the yeast mixture has been sitting for 10 minutes, add the dry ingredients and the oil all at once. Mix together using the paddle attachment just until combined. Switch to the dough hook and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and continue to process using the dough hook for 8-10 minutes. If the dough seems wet and sticky, you may sprinkle in up to a cup of all purpose flour. (If you are counting points, do this by Tablespoons so that you can recalculate the points total. I didn’t need any additional flour.)
Kneading by hand: (according to the cookbook) After the yeast mixture has been sitting for 10 minutes, fold the oil and the bran into the yeast mixture. Meanwhile, mix together the whole wheat flour and the salt in a medium bowl. Fold the whole wheat flour/salt mixture into the yeast mixture, one cup at a time. Then begin adding the 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour a little bit at a time and knead the dough right in the bowl, adding more flour as needed for 10 minutes. The dough will continue to be sticky.
3. Form the dough into a ball while it is still in the bowl.
Meanwhile, spray a very large bowl with cooking spray. If necessary, you may dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, wash and dry the mixing bowl, and put the dough back into the mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bowl coated with cooking spray, and spray the top of the dough with more cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and leave it in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. A good way to check it is to press into the dough with your finger. If the indentation remains after a few minutes, your dough has probably risen enough.
4. After the dough has risen, flour your work surface and lightly spray your hands with cooking spray. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto your work surface and knead for 1 minute, adding cooking spray to your hands as necessary. Shape the dough into a ball.
5. Give your large bowl another spray of cooking spray and then place the dough back in the bowl and spray the top with cooking spray. Cover again with the plastic wrap and the towel and allow it to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until nearly doubled in bulk again.
6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the middle about 30 minutes before the time that the dough should be finished rising. Place a small shallow pan of water in the back corner of the oven or on the bottom rack to create a bit of steam and allow the water to preheat along with the oven.
7. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on a baking stone. Gently turn the dough out onto your baking sheet/stone and spray your hands with cooking spray. Use your hands to gently reshape the dough into a ball. Right before you put it in the oven, use kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to make a few slashes in the top of the loaf.
8. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the loaf has a hard crust and sounds hollow when tapped.
This makes 14 unofficial 2 point servings.
Photos of the process:
The yeast should start to bloom and look sort of creamy/cloudy. If it doesn’t, you may be using yeast that has lost its punch. This step is always a good way to make sure that your yeast is still good before you incorporate all of the other ingredients.
The dry ingredients looked pretty, and I couldn’t resist snapping a photo!
I used my mixer, although I’ve made plenty of bread kneading by hand so either way should work fine! I found this dough easy to work with and it nicely pulled away from the edges of the mixing bowl and formed itself into a ball. How cooperative!
After the 1st rise, the dough was kneaded for one minute and formed into this lovely ball:
After the second rise, the dough was shaped into a ball once more and then placed on my pizza stone for baking. If you don’t have a pizza stone, a baking sheet will work just fine! I will tell you that pizza stones are quite useful– even if you are simply heating up a frozen pizza!
After it was finished baking, I gave it a tap and it sounded hollow. It also had a hard and crisp crust on the outside. Done!! Wow, did my house smell goooood!! Of course, I had to sample it while it was warm. I added a bit of dalmatian fig and orange spread. It was YUMMY!!
As you can see, this is a pretty dense bread. The crust is nice and crispy and it toasted up nicely this morning for breakfast. I had some with a bit of peanut butter and a couple of scrambled egg whites on the side. It was hearty and cozy and lovely!
I hope you will give it a try! Who needs fancy candles when you can make your home smell like fresh bread. Why doesn’t Yankee offer that scent??
Now! The moment you’ve all been waiting for (or scrolling quickly to reach…)
I’m amazed at all of the awesome recipes submitted for this week’s BSI!! I picked black beans because they’re great for you, they’re inexpensive and easy to find, and I really love them! Now I have a bunch of cool recipes using my favorite bean in a number of new ways!! I might be the real winner! Of course, all of the fabulous entries made it ridiculously hard to pick a black bean champ.
After consulting with a couple of friends and a giving it a lot of consideration, this week’s winner is: Becca at Bites of the Day with: Black Bean and Avocado Cornmeal Muffins.
Becca’s muffins are chock full of delicious things (including yummy avocado), look beautiful and would be great on their own or alongside a bowl of soup or a pot of chili. Yum! Thanks again to everyone who entered. I’m sure I won’t be the only person enjoying the recipes you came up with in the future! Becca, I’ll be e-mailing you to find out where to send your prize! Congrats!!
That concludes my week of hosting the BSI, and I’m passing the torch to Spiceaholic over at One Bite at a Time. Her BSI entries the last couple of weeks have caught my eye, and I love the spicy dishes she features on her site. If you haven’t checked it out, now is your chance. I can’t wait to see what she picks as this week’s BSI and start planning my own entry!
Other Contest News:
Don’t forget about the contest I’m hosting to celebrate my 50th post! You can win two of my favorite yummy snacks that were previously featured in Friday weigh-in/featured snack posts. For information about how to enter, please go here.
We are having an exceptionally snowy day for the DC area. I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are. I’m off to make cocoa and to decide what to have for lunch with my chunk of bread!! Have a great day!