A good loaf: 1-2-3 Bread

Hi all you bread makers out there! Does the summer get you down a little? With the warm weather, most people don’t seem to relish the thought of baking bread, well, except for me, I guess. That’s because I like to bake bread any time of the year and with that thing called “air conditioning”, I actually have a good non-humid environment in my kitchen to work.

Bread has been a great love and an enemy to me throughout my life. That being said, I adore good bread but it means carbohydrates, which are definitely not a friend to my waistline (or my hips or my arms or my….you get the drift). My compromise is to eat ‘good’ bread, which is bread that has at least some whole grain and thus fiber, and to limit the amount of bread I consume.

I find this the most difficult at quality restaurants, where the bread-basket can be unlimited and warm out-of-the-oven bread is served with real butter or better (or worse!) honey butter. At one of our favorite local restaurants, Plums, they serve the their homemade yeast biscuits with pecan butter (with a touch of honey, I think). This is so difficult for me to resist that I am trying to devise some kind of psychological ploy to trick myself into not devouring 2 or 3 before my entrée arrives. People stare when I literally sit on my hands or gnaw at my fingers so I’ll let you know what I come up with…

Recently, I did create my own bread recipe that is both reasonably healthy and tasty. It received the thumbs up from Dear Hubby and Girly Girl so I’m proud to present my “1-2-3 Bread”. The name came from two obvious ingredient amounts in the recipe: 3 types of flour and specifically 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 2 cups of bread flour and 3 cups of all-purpose flour (well, about 3 cups – more or less). The flour combination is great – for a rich but not heavy dough.

This recipe makes 2 large boules or 3 loaves so freeze a loaf or two for later if you like. Note the frozen dough will not rise quite as high as freshly made dough because some of the yeast may die when frozen – but the frozen-dough will still do fairly well, have a nice crumb and a chewy consistency. The molasses and the buttermilk give the bread zing and I feel pretty good about eating some whole grain, plus the aroma of fresh baking bread is the best air freshener I know.

Ingredients for 1-2-3 Bread. Can you tell I like King Arthur Flour? I find it to be the most consistent in quality for my baking.

Pour the scalded (but NOT boiling) milk and water into the yeast. The water should not be hot, just slightly warm. Hot temperatures will kill the yeast at this point!

Add the molasses to the yeast/milk mixture. Molasses gives just a touch of sweetness which is not really discernible in the baked bread.

Add the whole wheat flour and the bread flour and mix well.

After sitting for 20 minutes the dough will be spongy.

Add the egg/butter mixture to the spongy dough and mix with a spoon or spatula.

Mix in more flour (the all-pupose flour) and the dough will come together and not be quite as sticky. Once you can handle the dough…

Knead the dough by adding a small amount of flour, incorporating it into the dough. The steps to knead are the following:

Sprinkle with flour and fold dough over slightly, then…

push the dough back with the palm of your hand.

Turn the dough ball approximately 45 degrees and repeat the steps: sprinkle with flour, fold over the dough and push back with the palm of your hand. This is called “kneading”. You will do this for 10-12 minutes or until the dough is not sticky, but elastic.

Place the kneaded dough in a greased or buttered bowl. Cover with a cloth and set in a warm (but NOT hot) place to rise for about 1 hour. Do not sit directly on heat.

After an hour or so, the dough will rise to about doubled in bulk.

Next, squeeze the dough or “punch it down” as shown here. It will deflate. Remove the dough to a clean surface to divide in half or thirds.

I divided this dough for 2 loaves or boules. The one on the right is going to be part of dinner tonight. The other boule is going into the freezer. After it is well frozen ( 2 hours or so ) I will wrap it up tightly with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for a week.

 

Allow the loaf (or boule) to rise again in a warm place for about an hour. Here I sliced an “x” into the top of the boule (before allowing it to rise!) and gave it an egg white wash just before popping it into a hot 425 degree oven.

1-2-3 Bread 

  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 cup water, barely warm
  • 3 tbl. molasses
  • ½ cup milk scalded
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbl. butter, melted but cooled slightly
  • 1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl combine yeast, water, molasses and milk. Allow to sit 5 minutes. Whisk in the buttermilk. Add the whole wheat flour, bread flour and salt. Allow to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature. In a separate bowl whisk egg with butter. Add this to the yeast mixture. Mix in 1 more cup of bread flour and using about ½ more cup at a time mix in the all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Note that you may only add in 2 cups of all-purpose flour to the dough, but knead in the other cup. Knead about 10 minutes using as little all-purpose flour as required to get reduce stickiness of the dough.

Place kneaded dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Punch down. Divide in half for 2 boules or into 3 parts for 3 loaves or pinch into 3 inch pieces for rolls*. Place into greased pans and allow to rise again for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bake in the preheated oven about 25-30 minutes for the large boule, 18-20 minutes for the loaves and 13-15 minutes for the rolls. Cool on wire rack.

*At this point you can freeze the dough in a flattened disk. Be sure to wrap well to prevent freezer burn. When ready to bake, allow to defrost n the refrigerator overnight. Then let dough rise and proceed with rest of the recipe.

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2 thoughts on “A good loaf: 1-2-3 Bread

  1. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your site. You have some really good articles and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a
    link back to mine. Please blast me an email if interested.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Julianne, Sorry so much time has passed getting back to you…I think I am covered with my blog for now.Thank you for checking out southbyse.com and enjoy your day!

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