Friday, September 23, 2011

BREAD & CHILI: My two favorite foods

As I sit in my kitchen on this wonderfully rainy Friday night, I am inhaling beautiful smells of freshly baked bread. I wasn't planning on cooking all night, but sometimes I just get this urge to make tons of food. I also realized that it has been about 2 months since I started this blog and I have not made anything with thyme in it.

I started out with chili (see this post for the recipe). Then decided it has been too long since I have made bread. In the middle somewhere I made pesto to use on some pasta at some point this weekend. Back to my favorite food: bread.

I started making it myself a few months ago and have not really eaten much store-bought bread since (there is that much of a difference). I bought a book, Beard on Bread (you can find a link in the right sidebar --->), read the beginning and was amazed at how easy it is. First of all there are three ingredients- flour, yeast, water. Voila! You have bread. You can knead it by hand for a few minutes, put ingredients in a Kitchenaid mixer (link on right sidebar --->), or put ingredients in a bread maker. This is the no nonsense way for every skill and involvement level.

I made 2 different loaves because I wanted to test out the difference between using all bread flour and half bread flour with half whole wheat flour.

  • 1 1/2 c. organic bread flour
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 pkg. yeast
  • sprinkle salt
  • sprinkle sugar
  • (for this one I added in thyme and olive oil for a little flavoring...most fresh herbs will work)

  • 3 c. organic bread flour
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 pkg. yeast
  • sprinkle salt
  • sprinkle sugar
I am eating both as we speak and here is what I have found:
  • The all bread flour recipe is basically white bread, crunchy outside, chewy inside. It literally is the perfect tasting bread. Load it up with butter and it is unspeakable.
  • The half whole wheat recipe is really good. It's crust is not as crispy and center not as chewy, but it still has a great consistency. I added in fresh thyme sprigs (do not use the hard stems) to give it a little flavor and olive oil to moisten it up. It worked! This bread has amazing flavor and is perfect with butter or dipped in seasoned olive oil.
  • I did not make all whole wheat flour bread because I have made it before and it came out extremely dry, dense, and crumbly. The flavor was not that great either.
It's like the three little pigs of bread...the first one is too soft, the third one is too hard, but the one in the middle is just right!

Here are the directions to making bread. They are the same whether you mix by hand or in a mixer. I am not familiar with bread makers so that one is up to you to figure out if you have one.
  1. Get out 1 lg. bowl, measuring cup, and ingredients
  2. In lg. bowl, add 1 c. water, tsp. sugar, and pkg yeast. 
  3. Let sit for a few minutes to test the yeast (if it is good it will start to foam)
  4. Add in 3 c. flour according to the recipe you are following from above
  5. Add in tsp. salt
  6. Mix. If using a Kitchen-aid mixer use the dough hook to mix from the start. It will make a ball automatically. If doing it by hand, start with a fork until ball forms and then knead with hands for several minutes.
  7. Coat ball of dough with butter or olive oil
  8. Let rise 45 minutes. Sit ball in a lg bowl in microwave so it is protected from drafts
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  10. Punch down
  11. Form into bread pan or on baking sheet in shape of choice
  12. Bake 35 minutes
  13. Let cool
  14. Try not to devour it all in one sitting
It's that easy! I just ate close to half a loaf myself just sitting here writing. A couple more things to keep in mind. My suggestion would be to always use at least part whole wheat flour when making bread- this is because the fiber in the whole wheat flour slows down the digestion of the sugar and it is also food for the bacteria in your large intestine (aka poop shoot). The reason I would recommend using 1/2 whole wheat 1/2 bread flour is because eating straight white flour wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels, which effects your insulin levels, which effects your's just really not a good thing. You might as well be eating a cup of straight sugar. On the other hand I will never eat on a regular basis or recommend something that tastes like shit (i.e. all whole wheat flour recipe). I feel that there must be a compromise between food that is healthy for you and food that tastes great. You shouldn't eat something that you don't enjoy.

I urge you to try this for yourself one of these days, and maybe do a mini taste test to see what you like, you can also try all whole wheat flour if you want to see the full spectrum. I also suggest that you look at the ingredient list on the loaf of bread that you usually buy, or just take a few minutes and look at a few of them while you are in the supermarket. And then say to yourself, "I know what it takes to make bread...why the hell are there 20 ingredients that I am not familiar with in this loaf? Why is there high fructose corn syrup in this bread? Why am I eating this bread?"

I could have easily skipped the chili tonight and just scarfed down the bread (with organic butter of course!). On to watch the last few episodes The Tudors Season 4...perfect Friday night!

My next post will probably about what I am going to do with all of this bread...don't worry there are a few great 2nd uses for too much bread or bread that is slightly stale. :)

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