Friday, February 04, 2011


I think it was my wild success with the muffins that prompted me to consider baking bread. I’ve happily made biscuits and sweet breads before, but since a rather unfortunate doorstop of a loaf of something or other, I haven’t baked regular bread for sandwiches or toast, or any of the other usual things I use bread for. The other part of the motivation was this: I use bread for a lot of things. For example, I believe my toast consumption is higher than your average person, and I include it in my arsenal of not only delicious breakfast foods, but also snack, lunch, and dinner foods, with the right toppings.

Enter the vague recollection of a simplified bread recipe Mark Bittman posted a few years ago (and updated a few years later to include not only a faster recipe, but a whole wheat version). With my self-imposed snow day on Wednesday (because really, we only got a total of about 6 inches of snow all told), I realized that I could be home to monitor the progress of the bread. Now, the beauty of the originally posted recipe is that you let it sit for a long time by itself. I wanted to try to gain the supposed benefits of long rising times with only a slight increase in the amount of yeast so that I could cut the time from 14-20 hours to about 8, rather than to the 4 that Bittman adjusted to.

The result:

A smaller loaf than I had expected, but one that is still delicious. It’s not particularly dense (a concern I had considering the mix of whole wheat and multigrain flour I used), though it does not resemble the non-whole wheat photos at all, and it’s tasty. It is a little saltier than I would like, and I’ll cut the salt in the whole wheat recipe next time. The only adjustment I made was to use 1/2 tsp yeast, half the amount called for in the fast recipe (1 tsp), which worked out to twice the amount called for in the slow one (1/4 tsp), a symmetry I considered to be fate. I will be experimenting with rising times and flour mixes in the future to identify an ideal, but even at it’s unrefined starting point, it’s pretty delicious!

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