Monday, May 9, 2011

a carby experiment

Husband and I got lucky with the home we rent — it's actually part of a house, we live on the ground level and the owners live in the top two stories. We enjoyed their company right away and knew it would be a comfortable living situation for all of us. But wait, it gets better. This time last year, when we applied to live here, we told our potential new landlords that we were expecting a baby ... and they were, too! Their daughter Laughlin and our boy Jacob were born just four days apart.

(Read: built-in play dates ... for babies and moms, too!)

And the newest addition under our collective roof?

Colour me jealous. K recently acquired this drool-worthy mixer. She's been baking up a storm ever since, and last week she suggested we try our hands at bread making. I've only done it once and it worked out pretty well. That time I used my Mum's go-to brown bread recipe, so this time I went with Grammie's variation, which uses shredded wheat instead of oatmeal. This one's from the Barbour Cook Book, so it comes from the hands of experienced New Brunswick bakers, and this is the recipe verbatim:

Shredded Wheat Bread

1 yeast cake; 2 Shredded Wheats broken up; 1 cup scalded milk; 1 cup water; 1/2 cup molasses; 3 tsp. butter; 1 tsp. salt.
Put Shredded Wheat in water and scalded milk, add molasses and salt.
Add yeast, which has been dissolved in lukewarm water. Add flour, knead, and proceed as with white bread.

Really? Proceed as with white bread? How do you scald milk? What the heck is a yeast cake? Ummm, what about the flour? Well, that calls for an email to Grammie. After a few shared emails filled with my clueless hahas and her sympathetic lols, I was back on track.

K chose a whole wheat recipe from the cookbook that came with her mixer.

Whole Grain Wheat Bread

1/3 cup, plus 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 cups warm water (105-115 deg F)
2 pkg (4.5 tsp.) active dry yeast
5-6 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup powdered milk
2 tsp. kosher sea salt
1/3 cup oil

Dissolve 1 Tbsp. brown sugar in warm water in small bowl. Add yeast and let mixture stand.

Place 4 cups flour, powdered milk, 1/3 cup brown sugar and salt in mixer and mix on speed 2 for 15 seconds. Continuing on speed 2, gradually add yeast mixture and oil to flour mixture and mix about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Scrape bowl if necessary. Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

Place dough in greased bowl, turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm, draft free place about 1 hr or until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough and divide in half. Shape into loaf and place in greased 81/2X41/2X21/2-inch loaf pan. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 hr or until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350F and bake 30 minutes longer. Remove from pans immediately and let cool on wire racks.

Well now, that's a bit more comprehensive, isn't it?

So, what we decided was to make both kinds — using the mixer and bread hook for the latter, and the old-fashioned way for the former recipe.

Here are the cellphone-quality photos of the event:

The verdict? Both delicious! The hand kneading wasn't hard, and the recipe had fewer steps, so ultimately it was ready for the oven sooner. It was also great to be able to add the ingredients of the wheat bread directly into the mixer bowl and let it do its thing. That said, even with the mixing taken care of, K still had to roll out the dough and roll it up before putting it into the pan.

Do you know what this means? One house of people ate FOUR loaves of bread in less than a week. Maybe this isn't an experiment we'll be trying often ...

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