Week 2: Alice Waters
When I was 8, I was given My First Cookbook, which I used religiously for several years. I made every recipe in it at least once – even the ones I thought weren’t real recipes, like hot chocolate. (At eight, I recognized that not everything needs a recipe. Hot chocolate is milk and sugar and cocoa.) I haven’t made anything from My First Cookbook for years, but I do remember one recipe very clearly. Not the olive bees or the lemonade or baked stuffed apples or pita pizza or nachos or sports car fruit salad or even the chocolate chip cookies. I remember cinnamon raisin swirl bread. Warm bread is one of those comfort foods that no one can turn down. Even while I was gluten free, I made home made bread from brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, sorghum, chickpea flour, xantham gum, potato flour, and potato starch. I haven’t made yeast bread in almost a year, which is a crime, because fresh bread is like baking a bear hug. Today is grey and foggy in New York. If you pretend it’s closer to 40 degrees, rather than 80, it’s perfect bear-hug baking weather.
Fannie Farmer’s whole wheat bread is a traditional loaf, made with two to one white to wheat flour, rubbed with butter when it’s hot out of the oven. This is what bread wants to be when it’s labeled “Homemade Style Butter Topped Whole Wheat Loaf!” in the grocery store. Do make sure your yeast is fresh when you make bread; yeast also keeps well in the freezer.
Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Fannie Farmer
Make 2 loaves. Allow 5 hours.
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2 cups wheat flour
4 cups white flour
2 tablespoons butter
1) Bring 1/2 cup of the water to a boil, then mix with the milk, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
2) In a separate bowl, warm the remaining water, then add the yeast and allow to soften for five minutes.
3) Add the yeast, the wheat flour and 2 cups of the white flour to the milk and stir well. Turn out onto a well floured board and knead just enough to bring together. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
4) Using the remaining two cups of white flour, knead the dough for ten minutes.
5) Place the dough in an oiled bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
6) Punch down the dough and shape into two loaves. Place in greased pans and preheat oven to 375.
7) Allow the loaves to rise until double in size, then bake for about 45 minutes.*
8) Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and rub the tops with butter. Allow to cool completely.
*When you knock on the loaf, it should sound hollow.