Thursday, August 12, 2010

Toast and Jam, or Honey

In a perfect world, I would bake bread almost every day and in this perfect world we would always have homemade bread to eat at our house. I actually do make a lot of bread, but it is in spurts and sputters and when a spurt of bread making sputters, getting interrupted and derailed by LIFE, family members react with hurt irritation that THERE IS NO BREAD IN THIS HOUSE. I am forced to concede that I am not, and never will be living in a perfect world, and I buy some bread.

Toasted home made bread with home canned raspberry jam, what I ate this morning as I have every single morning this week, makes the simplest, yet most sublime, breakfast. Like Molly at Orangette, I also am a big fan of both home made granola and toasted home made, whole grainy breads for breakfast. More and more I am impressed with straightforward foods made really, really well -like bread. Of course, there is all the mundane breads eaten daily and hardly worth noticing. I personally, have made my fair share of home made breads that really weren't that great but there is also bread that is so amazingly good you have to pause and take notice. Its quality shines through because it is made with care and with good, though simple and straightforward, ingredients. You taste wheat or oats, honey or molasses, buttermilk or yogurt, sunflower seeds or whatever else you may have added, and it tastes true and genuine -really good bread.

My husband, though a big fan of all the jams I make, is as serious about honey as A. A. Milne's, Pooh -it is not unusual for him to sit down and eat a cup of honey on toasted slices of home made bread. Honest. We are fortunate to live with access to not just one, but several, small local honey producers -Kathleen Wright at Valley Spinner's Guild, Tom Singleton at the Snohomish Farmer's Market -and Bee Haven's roadside farm stand is within walking distance of our house. I buy honey several quarts at a time, more when we are making wines. In a perfect world, we would raise our own bees -but like I said, I do not and never will live in a perfect world. Luckily though, the world I do live in, where I know several great local honey producers and have the time to (sometimes) make my own jams and breads, is a pretty darn good place. This is the recipe I used to make the bread I've been toasting all week. It is a really easy and reliable recipe.

Sunflower Seed Yogurt Bread
Mix in stand mixer:
2 c. whole wheat flour
4 c. bread flour
2 t. salt
1 T. yeast

Mix and add:
1 c. yogurt
1 c. very hot water
1/4 c. honey

Mix with dough hook, adding a bit more flour or water as needed for proper consistency (not too stiff and not too wet). Knowing the feel of the proper consistency comes with practice. Luckily, practicing means you'll have home made breads to eat and a not necessarily great but just OK homemade bread is still pretty good bread. Knead 5 minutes or so, until the dough clears the side of the bowl. Add 3-4 T. soft butter and knead well. Knead in 3/4 c. raw sunflower seeds (optional, but yummy). Cover bowl with cling wrap and leave to double in size in a warm place (about 2 hours). Deflate and then leave to rise again (about 1 hour) then deflate again, divide and form two balls. Rest 10 minutes then form two loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. Let rise until doubled in size then bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

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