i think i've found my perfect 'base recipe' for baking bread. Of course, it'll never turn out the exact same twice, but this recipe is pretty simple, and unlike most 'whole wheat' recipes it actually IS 100% whole wheat (some of those recipes are so.... misleading. I hate that.)
The recipe i've found is from CDKitchen and the link is here. I have made it twice so far, and while i'm following the ingredients exactly (for now at least!) i'm using different instructions, as i'm making it all by hand. if you'd like to try it the way i have, just print out the recipe, then follow along here:
tools needed: large bowl, wooden spoon, flat surface (optional), measuring cups and spoons, tea towel, bread pan(s)
In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Let stand 10 mins then stir in.
Dump in all flour EXCEPT 1/4 cup (per batch), as well as the salt and honey. stir until evenly lumpy.
Add the milk, oil, and eggs. Mix thoroughly. This dough is very sticky.
Dump in the reserved flour, and mix it in.
If using a flat surface, flour it, and dump out the dough onto it. If doing it my way (less mess = better) sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour on top of the dough, as well as getting it around the sides and to the bottom. Put a little extra in the bottom of the bowl (to do this, pull the dough away from the sides one side at a time, and sprinkle flour down the crack. turn and repeat.)
Using either method, knead for at least a minute, adding more flour as required.
Place bread back into bowl (if necessary). Pour about 1tsp oil on top, and spread it around on all exposed surfaces (this prevents it from drying out!)
Cover with tea towel, and set in a warm place (i have a cold house, so i use my oven with just the light on.)
When the dough has risen to double its original size, punch it down. (I do this a second time as well... it seems to make a lighter loaf)
Grease all bread pans with butter. Shape bread and place into the pan. cover again with towel.
Let rise once more to double, while heating oven to 375F.
Place dough in oven, an bake for 35-40 mins.
To test done-ness for bread, dump out of pan onto a cookie rack. Tap the bottom with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, it's cooked.
Turn bread out onto racks, and cool. I like to spread a little butter on the top while it's still warm, as it gives a chewier crust.
Please note: this recipe makes a LARGE loaf. When i tripled the recipe, i had to use three large pans to fit the dough in. if you are using 'medium' pans, there may be extra dough, (i'd use 4 medium pans for a triple batch, i think)
Other randomness: i've been doing a lot of spinning (both at last weekends' trainer and otherwise) and if anyone is interested in handspun wool, or drop spindles, drop me a line. i'm always willing to barter!
my seedlings are growing by leaps and bounds... going to need to repot some this week, and take some to their 'final homes' (the ones i'm giving to family)so i can have more room on my window sills.