So, yeah, as I was saying…
I was on this little quest to find a good bread – tasty, at least somewhat healthy, easy to make, reliable,versatile, and one that slices up nicely and toasts well.
Is that so much to ask?
We obviously really loved the yummy white bread recipe that I mentioned yesterday, so I started there.
First, I made a loaf using half white flour and half wheat flour instead of all white.
I worried that it would flop, but no, my band of men scarfed it down just as readily.
So, I got a little reckless and thought I’d cut the sugar in half. I felt pretty sure that I’d regret that, but no… still yummy.
Then, in an act of complete and total wild abandon, I substituted good local honey for the 1/4 cup of white sugar and low and behold, it worked out great!
At this point, I had made 5 loaves of bread over a span of about a week. That’s probably more than I’ve made in the entire last year, if you don’t count any quick breads like banana or pumpkin or biscuits.
But I was on a roll, and so close to that perfect recipe that I could, literally, taste it. In fact, I thought I was probably as close as I was going to get to my goals, until I went shopping.
I tossed a couple of ginormous bags of flour in my basket, a new jar of yeast and then I stood staring at the tub o’ Butter-Flavored Crisco.
You just cannot beat Crisco for flakey pie crust, and the butter flavored version… well, it’s the best thing going, so I really did not think that I could manage to make a decent bread without it.
I mean really, it’s only a 1/4 cup in each loaf, that’s not so bad, right?
But then… would I spread their toast with that stuff? Is baking it directly INTO the bread any different?
So I got online and did a little digging around and found Spectrum Organic Shortening
and decided to give it a whirl. It’s got 0 trans fats and is non-hydrogenated. It’s naturally cholesterol free and made from palm oil that is harvested in a sustainable way by family farms in Columbia.
When I finally got my hands on some, I read this on the back:
“… It’s good for you, the farmers, and the earth… just imagine what it does for pie crust.”
The good folks at Spectrum
have included a store locater search on their website, so you can plug in your digits and find a dealer near you. And no, this is not an advertisement. I’ve had no communication with the Spectrum people and am not being paid to sing their praises, honest. But, um, if you guys are reading this and would like me to test drive your other wonderful sounding products, I’m game.
Anyhow, loaf number six was perfection. Pure. Complete. Perfection.
Ahhhhh, the sweet taste of success.
I imagine I’ll continue to tweak things a bit…
Maybe add some rolled oats to the top, maybe throw in a little flax, maybe overcome my mental block and use ALL whole wheat flour.
I’d like to keep experimenting with the process too… do all my kneading in the mixer? the food processor? by hand? half mixer half by hand?
Maybe I’ll see if the dough freezes well after the first rising, so that I can make a lot at once.
Maybe I’ll pre-measure dry ingredients for several batches into plastic bags so that the assembling is easier.
Maybe I’ll make 4 loaves in one day instead of two every other day and see if they freeze well, fully baked.
You know what? It’s cool with me that I don’t have ALL the answers, because I finally have a good bread.
The rest, well that’s the fun part… fiddling with it, breathing it in as I mix and knead, watching little boys follow their noses into the kitchen, smiles growing as they say, ” Mmmmmm…. Today’s bread making day?”
Oh yes. Yes it is.
So, without further ado, and even though my husband says that “The Secret Signature Recipe” should be kept secret, I give you Blue Yonder’s Daily Bread.
It has been a labor of love, and I so enjoy the idea of it gracing your table too. I really hope that you like it as much as we do.
Blue Yonder’s Daily Bread
In a small cup or bowl, combine warm water with yeast and sugar. Let that sit for about 10-15 minutes. Then, in a large bowl pour yeast mixture, water, flours, shortening, honey and salt. Using an electric mixer or food processor, blend until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
You can keep mixing for 7 minutes, or just for 3 or 4 and then knead the dough by hand for a few more minutes. The dough should no longer be sticky, but smooth and elastic. If you push your fingers in, the hole should refill itself quickly.
Remove the dough and place in a clean bowl that has been greased lightly with oil. Turn dough over in bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp clean cloth and place in a warm spot to allow dough to double in size. This time of year, it takes about an hour to an hour and 20 minutes for that to happen.
After dough rises, punch down to eliminate bubbles. Spray or grease and flour 9×4 or 5 inch loaf pan. Shape dough into a loaf and place in pan. In warm spot let rise again, uncovered until it doubles in size. This usually takes about another hour for us.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaf for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped lightly on top. Makes 1 loaf.
********************edited 1/28/09, to add:
So I have to tell, ya, the day that we were out of Spectrum AND whole wheat flour, I improvised and HOLY. SMOKES! What came out of the oven was pinch-me-cuz-I-must-be-dreamin’-good! We replaced the wheat flour with All Purpose white, and the 1/4 cup Spectrum with 1/2 cup canola oil.
The dough was REALLY wet. I had to work in a pretty good bit more while I was kneading to keep it from sticking. Don’t add too much though, just enough so you don’t have to scrape it of the counter each time you turn it.
It’s good… so very fluffy and bouncy. It kinda dances right out of the oven and straight onto your hips, if you catch me.