Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: Late April - May
The Home Garden, April 28, 2009

Baking Great Homemade Bread in Your Kitchen!

Honey Oat Bread     Savor the aroma of fresh whole grain bread baking in your own  kitchen - fresh homemade bread, made with organic flour, using time - tested methods that develop great texture and delicious flavor with no hydrogenated oils or food additives. 
     Yes, you can make great homemade bread.  The process is fairly long but only takes a small amount of your time as most of the process involves waiting for the dough to rise and develop its flavor and texture. 

     Though there are a number of ways to make good bread, I prefer the Italian biga method.  A preferment called biga is made about 9:00 pm and allowed to slowly ferment overnight at a cool temperature before it is incorporated into the main dough the following morning.  The biga will add flavor and better texture to the bread.   It takes about 10 minutes to make the biga, about 30 minutes to make the main dough and about 10 minutes to shape the dough for baking.  The main dough may rise 2 -4 hours before you shape it and 2 -3 hours after shaping depending on temperature.  A slow cool rise, 60 - 65 degrees, creates a bread with better flavor and texture.  In the summer when our homes tend to be warmer than this a small ice pack in a cooler can create a cool place for bread to rise.

     Even though bread dough can be made totally by hand I enjoy using my KitchenAid Mixer with the doughhook attachment to make dough.  I simply place the ingredients in the bowl, turn it on slow speed and mix until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

     Lets say you want to make bread on Saturday.  Friday evening at about 9:00 you make the biga, cover it and place it in a cool place to rise overnight.  Before breakfast Saturday morning you make the main dough, cover it and put it in a cool place to rise.  While it is rising you can do household chores, run some errands or go to a ballgame.  After 2 - 4 hours shape the dough and you have another 2 - 3 hours to do other things before you bake the bread.  In my convection oven (an oven that has a fan in it to evenly distribute the heat) I can bake as many as 6 loaves at one time.  Bread should keep 4 - 5 days in a cool room and also freezes very well.

 Shaped Bread Dough   

    Shaping the dough:  The photo on the left illustrates dough that is being shaped for loaves.  The dough is divided, rounded and then shaped into loaves.  After the dough is rounded you may need to wait a few minutes to allow the gluten in the dough to relax in order to work with it again.  I use about 1 1/2 lbs of dough for a loaf.  Below see how to flatten the rounded dough, roll it, pinch the top together and push in the ends to form a loaf.  Then it is placed in a loaf pan that has been brushed with vegetable or olive oil.

Flatten Dough Roll Dough Pinch Top of Dough Together Press ends of Dough in          

     In order to create a great loaf of bread, you must start with great ingredients.  Choose organic bread flour and organic whole grains for your health and quality bread.  Be aware that humidity and flour quality can cause the amount of flour and water needed in a recipe to vary.  In time you will get a feel for the proper proportions. The following recipe is one of my favorites and was our best seller at farmers markets.   Why not give yourself and your family a chance to experience the joy and satisfaction of delicious, nutritious homemade bread!

Honey Oat Bread Recipe

The day before you plan to bake bread place 1/2 cup organic oat groats (whole oats) and 1 cup of water in a pan, cover with lid and cook until the water is absorbed.  Refrigerate after cooking.  About 9:00 in the evening mix together 3/4 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon yeast and 2 cups organic unbleached bread flour.  Cover and let sit in a cool place overnight.

Bread baking day mix the final dough as follows:                                                             

Place 2 cups water, 2 teaspoons yeast, 1/8 cup vegetable or olive oil, 1/8 cup honey, 1 1/4 cup finely ground organic rolled oats, 1/2 cup ground flax seed, and 4 cups organic unbleached flour in mixing bowl and mix until it comes together to form a ball of dough.  Let rest 20 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the water.

Add 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, biga, and cooked oat groats.  Mix, knead and form in a ball.  Place in bowl brushed with vegetable or olive oil, cover and set in a cool place to rise.  It should rise 2 - 4 hours or until doubled in size.  Shape the dough into 3 loaves and place in loaf pans brushed with vegetable or olive oil.  Let rise until about 1 1/2 times the original size.  If the dough rises too much the top of the loaf will sink as it bakes in the oven.  When properly risen dough enters a hot oven you should get a nice oven rise.

Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Spray the top of the loaves with water, place loaves in the oven and change the oven temperature to 360 degrees.  Bake 40 minutes or until done.