Two moves to two different states within the span of a couple years leaves me feeling disorientated at times.
This week in particular, I’ve felt homesick, but I’m not really even sure what for, anymore. Am I homesick for the Twin Cities or for Fargo, ND? I think I just yearn for my familiar faces and places and I just haven’t found all of them in Iowa yet.
Baking is one of my favorite forms of therapy. There’s something soothing in taking the time to carefully measure ingredients and combining them in a specific order. Baking bread is also like a culinary form of meditation since one must patiently wait for the dough to rise.
Don’t skimp on this step. Just my culinary instructor told us in baking lab, let the dough to rise “once for flavor and twice for structure.” If you are impatient and rush through this step, you will end up with bland bread, dense bread, or both.
You will be rewarded for your patience. The wheat bread has a hint of sweetness and is not too heavy.
My favorite way to enjoy it is by toasting slices and slathering them in butter. Then, I add a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
We have the nicest nextdoor neighbors. This week, they removed our fall leaves from our yard when we weren’t looking so I brought over an extra loaf of wheat bread. They gave it high marks, so it must be good, right?
And when I’m in a really good mood, I save a tiny corner of toast for my dog who’s getting more patient at waiting for me to finish breakfast.
Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Chyrl Anderson’s recipe in Recipes from Rural America Published by NTCA’s Foundation for Rural Service
1 package yeast
2 cups of warm water
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup hot water
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 cups whole wheat flour
In a small bowl, add the yeast to 2 cups of warm water. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast and if it’s too cold, it will not bloom.
After a few minutes, add the yeast and water mixture to a large bowl containing the honey, salt and all purpose flour. Mix until combined. Loosely cover and set in a warm place until it’s bubbly. I heat my oven and turn it off. When the oven cools to warm, it’s the perfect place to let dough rise.
Mix together the hot water, olive oil, and brown sugar. Cool until warm and then add to the yeast sponge in the large bowl. Combine the whole wheat flour.
I mixed everything together with a stand mixer with a dough hook for about five minutes on a medium speed setting. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can knead it by hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic, but not too sticky.
Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl or pan, turning it over so all sides are lightly coated. Cover loosely and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled.
When it’s doubled in size, knead the dough for several minutes and separate it into two loaves. If you are using loaf pans, place the dough in the greased pans. Otherwise, free form the dough into your desired shape and place on a lightly-oiled baking sheet. Cover loosely.
Let the dough rise one more time until doubled.
The original directions instructed me to bake at 375 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until done. My oven must run hot because I baked the loaves at 365 degrees F. for 30 minutes.
Cool completely before storing.
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