When possible I like to bake my own bread. It is a magical little process, from which you take a few ingredients, mix them together, and end up with something wholesome and delicious to snack on. So, before the summer heat makes turning on the oven feel like a chore (a cruel, cruel chore) I thought I might share my favorite recipe.
Whole Wheat Bread
Bread Flour 476g
Wheat Flour 204g
Yeast, active dry 4g
*This recipe is for two loaves of bread
Heat your milk to a little warmer than body temperature- try for about 45 seconds in the microwave, and if its still a little cool, give it increments of 20 seconds until it is warm enough. Add your yeast to this and let it sit for about 3-4 minutes, until it has fully dissolved.
Pour the milk, yeast, oil, sugar and salt into the mixing bowl, and then put in the flours. With a dough hook attachment, mix this together for about 3 minutes on low speed until it has come together. Continue to mix for 4 minutes on medium speed. Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rest for 1 hour.
After the hour has passed, divide the dough into two equal portions, and give it a fold and roll into a rough shape of the loaf. Place in its bread pan, and let rest for 15 minutes more. After the 15 minutes has passed, shape it into its final tube shape and place back into the bread pan.
Now you are ready to proof it, or allow it to rise. I find it easiest to do this by taking a coffee mug full of water, and microwaving it on the "boil" setting until it is producing steam. Moving very quickly, I open the microwave door, place in the bread pans with the hot mug and steam, and then quickly shut the microwave door. This traps in heat and steam, and allows the bread to rise in a warm and damp climate, which helps to keep the crust from cracking.
Let this rest for about an hour in the microwave. When it is ready it will have risen substantially, almost doubling in volume. You can check to see whether or not it is ready to place in the oven by using the "spring back" test- gently push on the loaf with your fingertip, pull your finger back, and wait to see if it springs back and reforms into its previous shape. If it does, go ahead and turn on your oven to 450, and while you are waiting for it to come to temp., give the loaves a nice milk wash by brushing on a layer of milk over the top.
Put the loaves into the oven, and let it bake for about 30 minutes- the crust will be a deep brown color, and when you stick in a digital thermometer, it will be ready when it reads 195. If you don't have a probe thermometer, you can try tapping on the bread, and listen for a "hollow" sound, or inserting a skewer, and feeling for residual heat.
Pull them out of the bread pans, let them cool for at least 20 minutes, and then enjoy.