Friday, October 15, 2010

Bread Kits: Part Two - Traditional Bread Kits

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Here is how to assemble a Bread Kit using regular whole wheat flour ("NT Friendly" Bread Kits will be presented Monday, 10/18/10):

{Time requirement: up to two hours, every 1-2 months}
  1. First gather the zip-close bags needed: (2) quart-size and (1) gallon size for each kit. I make up (8) kits at a time.
  2. For each kit, label one quart bag as “1st” or “Start Here” and label another quart bag as “2nd”.
  3. Now start milling the grain, following the instructions for your grain mill. However, if you are not milling your own grain, start sifting the 5 lb. bag of purchased flour. If you do not sift the flour, your measurements will not be accurate for this recipe. Place 2 cups of flour and 1 ½ Tbsp yeast in each of the quart-size “Start Here” bags. Write instructions on the bag to remind you to combine this with 2 ½ cups warm (110º F) water.
  4.  Into the “2nd” bags, also quart sized, measure 5 cups of flour, 2 ½ tsp salt, 1 ½ Tbsp dough enhancer and ½ cup vital wheat gluten. Write instructions on the bag to remind you to add 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup olive oil along with the contents of the bag.
  5. Place both bags into a gallon zip-lock and freeze until needed.
  6. Grind at least a gallon of additional flour to keep on hand for stiffening the dough as needed. Keep this in the freezer until it is needed.
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Instructions for baking bread from regular whole wheat flour using my Bread Kits:
[TIME NOTE: This is based entirely on Marilyn Moll’s recipe from the Urban Homemaker, and the recipe requires only one rise.] Make sure you have two loaf pans and a candy thermometer (for measuring your water temperature).

  1. In advance of the time when you have time allotted to bake bread, take out a Bread Kit to allow it to come to room temperature, at least an hour before you are planning to start your bread, or even in the morning before you go to work if you will be preparing the bread in the evening.
  2. Heat the bowl in which you will mix the bread and the measuring cup for the water by filling them with HOT water until they feel quite warm to the touch. Place a dough hook on your mixer. Heat the bread pans you will use by filling them with HOT water and placing them in an area where they will stay warm until you are ready for them.
  3. Drain the bowl and dry completely; measure the water in the measuring cup and use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. The water should be between 105ºF-115ºF, with 110ºF being ideal.
  4. Remove the “Start Here” bag and combine all the ingredients listed on the bag with the flour and mix well in your warmed bowl. Allow this to work for about 15 minutes before proceeding. [Time required: ~10 minutes prep, then set a timer for 15 minutes during which the dough does not need your attention]
  5. Then, add the contents of the “2nd” bag to the soaked flour along with the honey and olive oil and mix well on a slow speed (2 on a Kitchen Aid).  Add additional flour as needed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, bearing in mind that adding too much flour will make your loaves dry. You should not have to add more than about a 1-1 ½ cups of flour in this stage, but this can vary from batch to batch.  [Time required: ~5 minutes]
  6. Continue kneading until the dough starts “climbing out of the bowl.” Be patient; this takes a lot longer than the recipes in the Kitchen Aid book suggests, and in my experience, will depend upon the ambient temperature and humidity. Test the dough to see if the gluten is developed by taking a pinch to see how far you can pull it without the dough tearing. You have kneaded enough when you can just about see through the dough before it tears. If your mixer will not handle this volume of dough, you can always knead by hand until the gluten is developed. [Time required: ~15 minutes]
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  8. If you must knead by hand, spray your kitchen countertop with some non-stick spray before turning your dough onto the counter.  This will prevent the dough from sticking to your countertop without the need for introducing additional flour which might be detrimental to your dough. Also, spray your hands with the non-stick spray as well. Fold the dough in from the sides and push it away from you with the heels of your hands, rotating the dough every few kneads until the gluten develops as described above. [Time required is included in step 5]
  9. Divide your dough into two equal portions. I usually weigh my splits to make sure I have divided the dough equally. Empty the baking pans and dry completely, then spray them with non-stick spray. Also, spray your countertop with non-stick spray. [Time required: ~5 minutes]
  10. Roll out one portion of the dough into roughly a rectangular shape, with the short side as wide as the bread pan is long, and this side facing you. Starting with the short side of the dough opposite you, roll up the dough tightly towards you into a loaf, as if it were a jelly roll. Pinch the end of the dough to the roll, and tuck the ends and pinch, sealing the whole loaf, and place pinched side down into a bread pan. Cover with a towel and repeat with the other portion of dough. Place the loaves in a warm area where they can rise. I usually place the loaves on my glass cook top under my range lights (which put out a lot of heat).  [TIME NOTE: You may warm an oven to 100ºF-120ºF (then turn it off) in which to place the covered loaves, leaving them in the oven to rise overnight. Take them out of the oven in the morning, preheat the oven and bake as directed in Step 10. In this case, time required: <50 minutes, depending on oven heating time, and can be done as you prepare for work or other morning activities; otherwise, time required: ~1 ½ hour including step 10.]
  11. Allow loaves to rise until they have doubled in size, usually for about an hour. During this time preheat your oven to 350ºF. When the rise has completed, bake loaves in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The loaves are done when they are nicely browned and have a hollow sound when you tap them. Once done, place the loaves still in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes then turn the loaves out onto the wire rack to cool completely. If the loaf wants to stick in the pan, gently run a butter knife around the perimeter of the pan and the loaf should release. I have always read that the loaf will be better if you allow it to cool completely before you slice it, but who can wait that long?? Cut a piece with a bread knife, spread on some real butter and enjoy. Be sure to save the “butt piece” to place back against the loaf to keep the bread from drying out. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator once completely cooled. [MONEY-SAVING NOTE: I save hot dog and hamburger bun bags and twist ties in which to store my homemade loaves.
Happy Baking! And please let me know how your loaves turn out!

Please check back Monday for the competion of this series, Soaked-Flour Bread Kits (NT Friendly) with baking instructions.

There is joy on this journey, on my way home to my Father's house,
Cindy <><


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