How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Wheat Bread Rising

This week's Nueva Receta is an Easter bread with a Passover lesson. Those familiar with the Old Testament story know that unleavened bread is associated with Passover because the Israelites did not have time to stay up late waiting for the bread to rise.

Our story begins with a youth-group fundraiser at our church, for which Paloma agreed to make some bread. Her first attempt was a kind of macaroon with which I helped her last weekend. She read the directions carefully and we followed them closely but the results were underwhelming.

So this weekend we tried a simpler wheat bread. Pam and Paloma followed one recipe closely but the result -- though tasty -- was more doughy than breadish. We hesitate to speak ill of our friends the yeasts in this increasingly zymurgical household, but we think they let us down this time.

So we turned to our trusty More-with-Less Cookbook in search of an easy recipe to begin late on Easter Eve. Pam and Paloma found Easy No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread on page 58 and I set out to the store in search of younger, fresh-faced yeast.

I whisked together 3 cups of whole wheat flour 1/2 cup of sugar 2 tablespoons of salt in three packages of that fresh newborn yeast. Yes, three packages! meanwhile Paloma heated 2 cups of water 2 cups of milk and a half cup of canola oil to 120°F. We added this mixture and two eggs from nearby Hanson Farm; Paloma used our hand mixer on low speed to mix until moistened and then on medium speed for three minutes to make a smooth batter. (Our hand mixer is among the most neglected items in our kitchen, but the recipe called for it specifically.)

This concluded the "easy" portion of the recipe, which now called for the addition of 5 to 6 cups of white flour. Paloma gamely stirred as I added the flour cup by cup, but as it was transformed from batter to dough, more Dad-sized muscle was called for. We covered the mixing bowl and with some trepidation I began the midnight watch. After ninety minutes of playing around on the computer, I checked the bowl and was surprised to see that the towel seemed to have been pushed up slightly. It was our largest mixing bowl, but those yeasts had pushed the dough right up to the top. On that predawn Easter morning, it had risen indeed!

I punched down the dough, divided it between two oiled loaf pans, and in just 15 min. found it had risen again. I bake at 375, and after a half hour I removed the upper rack from the oven and continue baking for a total of 45 minutes. The result was two of the airiest wheat breads we have ever had. One was a success at the youth-group auction in the other was a welcome addition to an Easter dinner with friends.

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