Oui, Oui, j’aime le pain! Homemade French and 6 grain bread.

I haven’t made homemade bread in years and I really wasn’t sure that I could.  The last time I made bread was when I owned a bread machine about 10 years ago.  I honestly thought that making bread without one would be very difficult.  What I disliked about the bread machine, other than it’s massive size and the amount of counter space it took up, was how the bread was shaped when cooked in the machine.  So, while I was planning a belated birthday dinner for my mother I thought it would be nice to make crustini garlic bread to go along with the spaghetti and meatballs I was making.  I started searching for a recipe for baguettes.   I realized that making these would be pretty difficult as I didn’t have a pan for these long and skinny rolls.  I then saw a recipe for French bread.  I absolutely love crusty French bread and I knew it would make awesome garlic bread.  So, I ventured down the bread making path once again, sans a bread machine.

Making the French bread was so incredibly easy!  Now, I will admit that it was easy because of the dough hook on my stand mixer.  Without that I don’t think it would be very easy.  It can be done though.

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What you will need:

  • Stand mixer
  • Dough hook for stand mixer
  • large cookie sheet

Crusty French Bread (Source: Sugar Cookies to Peterbuilts Blog)

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water, divided
1 T. shortening, melted (or olive oil)
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt
4-5 c. all purpose flour
cornmeal
Combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in mixing bowl, stir until yeast is dissolved.
Add sugar, shortening, remaining water and 2 cup of flour.

Mix until blended, using paddle attachment on mixer. Add salt and 2 more cups of flour, mix again until combined. Add remaining flour as needed until a soft dough ball forms.

Remove paddle from mixer, and cover bowl to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Remove dough from bowl onto floured surface and divide into two equal pieces.  Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
Roll each piece into a rectangle and roll from long side into a log.  Tuck ends under and place seam side down on a greased and floured baking sheet  cover loaves with cloth and let rise again, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 2-3 slits in tops of loaves with a sharp knife. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and loaf sounds hollow when thumped. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve warm or if using for sandwich bread, allow bread to cool for at least 12 hours and then thinly slice using a good serrated bread knife or electric knife.  That is if you can stand the smell of the fresh bread and not eat it right away.  Freshly baked bread, fresh cut grass in the spring, a baby’s head, my husband’s neck, and oddly enough my grandparent’s basement are my favorite smells.

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After my success with the French bread and the subsequent garlic bread from one of the loaves I wanted to try a sandwich bread.  I came across a recipe for 7 grain bread.  The recipe looked easy enough.  I needed one item that I didn’t have on hand.  I was unsuccessful at finding exactly what I needed.  The recipe is for 7 grain bread which uses 7 grain hot cereal mix.  My store only had a 5 grain hot cereal mix.  I had wheat germ in my pantry so I added that and made it a 6 grain.  I am going to try another store in town and if I can’t find a 7 grain hot cereal there I am almost sure I can find it at Wholefoods.  If not, the 6 grain was good 🙂

Make sure you get raw grain hot cereal, not one with added sugar or spices like cinnamon.  I found this one.

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Ingredients (Source:  Our Best Bites Blog)
1 1/4 cup (6 1/4 ounces) seven-grain hot cereal mix ( i used 3 packets from the 5 grain hot cereal I bought)
2 1/2 cups boiling water (
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour (not bread flour)
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 oz) whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat)
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 tablespoon salt
Optional : 3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (I omitted these)
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats

*If you’re using salted butter, just decrease the additional salt by just a bit.

Instructions
Place cereal mix in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook and pour boiling water over it; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees and resembles thick porridge, about 1 hour.  Whisk flours together in separate bowl.

Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, butter, and yeast and mix on low speed until combined.  Add flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until cohesive mass starts to form (*note: some at high altitudes have noted they have not needed all of the flour, go by look and feel and stop adding flour if you need to!) 1 1/2-2 minutes; cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 20 minutes.  Add salt and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3-4 minutes (if it does not clear sides, add 2-3 tablespoons additional all-purpose flour and knead until it does.  Don’t add more!) continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes.  Add seeds (if using) and knead for another 15 seconds.  Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, round ball.  Place dough in large, lightly greased bowl; cover tightly with plastic and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 45-60 minutes. ( I covered with a towel)

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.  Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and divide in half.  Press 1 piece of dough into 9×6 inch rectangle, with short side facing you.  Roll dough toward you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go.  Turn loaf seam side up and pinch it closed.  Repeat with second piece of dough.  Spray loaves lightly with water or vegetable il spray.  Roll each loaf in oats to coat evenly and place seam side down in prepared pans, pressing gently into corners.  Cover loaves loosely with greased plastic (again covered with a towel) and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size 30-40 minutes.  Dough should barely spring back when poked with knuckle.

Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake until loaves register 200 degrees, 35-40 minutes.  Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Remove loaves from pans, return to rack, and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before slicing and serving.

Storage: Bread can be wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Wrapped with additional layer of foil, bread can be frozen for up to a month.

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My oats didn’t stay on the top of the bread when I removed the bread from the pans. I used the non-stick cooking spray.  Next time I’ll use a little oil brushed on top.  The bread is soft and I had to try it with a little raspberry jam after slicing it for sandwiches this morning.  Mmmmm…  simple goodness of homemade bread.  Give baking bread a try!

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