I’ve been on a big bread-baking binge for the last few weeks, and we’re getting through the loaves as though they would soon go out of fashion. And given the fact that I can’t find a recipe without tweaking it, I’ve even started a notebook to log what I did, so I don’t look up the wrong recipe by mistake.
Events so far included two (rather large) yummy loaves of bread with steel-cut oatmeal (based on a food.com recipe , but with half wholewheat flour), two with some oat flour mixed in with white and brown wheat flour (less successful), and one particularly delicious loaf with chestnut flour, which was also based on an internet recipe. I baked this in a tin rather than free-form, because how else can you turn bread to sandwiches, used half wholemeal flour for the non-chestnut portion instead of all white and substituted pumpkin seeds for the sultanas the recipe suggested. It was very unusual, very chewy, very nice.
But chestnut flour is a bit exotic to be using for an everyday loaf, so today I moved on to flour from red fife wheat, which is the wheat they used to grow in Ontario back in the day, and which meets my vague goal of trying not to buy too much from too far away. (I’ll still do marmalade.) The seller tells me the grain was ground to flour yesterday, it’s that fresh, and I should keep any leftover flour in the freezer because there’s no preservatives at all.
I admit I wimped out of using all red fife flour for this one, because I thought my bread would probably be just too dense, so went for a white-wholewheat-red fife mix, in equal parts. I started with this recipe from a blogger who must live only a few streets away from me, judging by the coffee shops she writes about. But I tweaked things around a little. The result smells glorious.
Red Fife Bread (makes two smallish loaves)
2 cups each of stone-ground strong white flour, stone-ground wholemeal flour and red fife flour
2 ¾ cups warm water
¼ cup honey
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
Mix 3 cups of the flour with the water, honey and yeast, cover (I used a damp tea towel) and then allow it to proove until it’s nice and bubbly. It took about 90 minutes.
Add the other three cups of flour, plus salt and olive oil and knead until it’s smooth, using a little bit of flour as needed — I probably used another quarter of a cup, although the recipe suggests it might be as much as 1-1/2 cups. The dough was very sticky at the start, b but it got better as I kneaded — very soft and elastic. Work in the seeds (if you are using them), and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size — about an hour.
Knock dough down, and put in two well greased bread tins. Allow it to rise again, until it’s doubled in size.
Bake in preheated oven at 425F for the first 15 minutes, and then at 375 for the final 30 minutes. It should sound hollow when you take it out of the oven.
All the recipes say don’t eat bread until it’s cooled, because it will be so hard to cut. Is waiting even an option?
Of course, I already have four different sorts of organic flour, and all the reading I’m doing from my new and borrowed bread books say to keep organic flour in the fridge or freezer because it won’t last long in a regular cupboard because of the way it’s processed.
Hmm. If I get into breadmaking in an bigger way, we’re going to need a bigger freezer.