Bread.

I am having the hardest time coming up with anything entertaining to say about bread.  But here’s my bread post anyway: high utility, low entertainment.

I have three criteria for bread: whole grains, no sugar, no preservatives.  Finding recipes to make bread that meets these is not difficult.  But you know what’s difficult?  Finding time to make the darn stuff.  Even with the breadmachine, it’s still a time commitment to something that I do not particularly love doing.  So, I have been scouring the local grocery stores, bakeries, and farmers’ markets for REAL bread that I can just buy.  Sure, HOUSTON, with it’s fancy-schmancy Central Market bakery had shelves and shelves of “real” bread for sale.  Here, I mainly feel thwarted.

But, now after — hard to believe —  5 months, I have a few go-to bread products I can BUY that make the boys happy (and me even happier).  Drumroll, please:

#1 BAGELS.  My boys used to eat a ton of those mini-white bagels.  You know the ones with little-to-no-nutrtional value?  Yeah, those.  They’ve been bugging me about bagels for breakfast since Day 1 of our new “lifestyle” (“It’s not a diet!” I say for the 700th time).  FINALLY.  The Co-op came through with these sprouted wheat bagels from Alvarado St. Bakery (these may have been there all along, it just took me awhile to discover them).     They toast up nicely, have a light taste that all the boys like, and are great with — one of our favorite breakfasts — cream cheese and smoked salmon.   (Yes, I will admit it’s not a New York bagel.  But those little white bagels are in no way, shape, or form, ones either.  You gotta go to New York to get a New York bagel.  The next time we’re there, heck yeah we’ll eat some bagels.)

Sprouted Wheat Bagels
Sprouted Wheat Bagels
sprouted grain whole wheat bagel with cream cheese
sprouted grain whole wheat bagel with cream cheese

#2  RAISIN BREAD.  The 5 y.o. and I love this for breakfast or an after-school snack.  From Food for Life, their Ezekial 4:9 sprouted grain bread.  (Go to their website to see from whence cometh the name — it’s kinda cool.)  Butter, and lots of it, is all this needs.   I got this at Meijer for awhile, but now only find it at the Co-op.

Ezekial 4:9 cinnamon raisin bread
Ezekial 4:9 cinnamon raisin bread
Ezekial 4:9 cinnamon raisin bread.  Toasted.  BUTTER.
Ezekial 4:9 cinnamon raisin bread. Toasted. BUTTER.

#3 PITAS.  Meijer brand whole wheat pitas.  It’s really hard to find a grocery store baked good that doesn’t have sugar in it.  I’m not sure how these slipped through the cracks.  I check the ingedients every time because I worry that one day someone at the Meijer bakery will say “Hey, Verna!  We’re been forgetting to put the sugar in these peter breads!”  For now, they make great pita pizzas for lunch and yummy egg and cheese sandwiches for breakfast.

personal-size pita pizza
personal-size pita pizza

As for the daily PB&J bread for my middle son — the one who flashed his “eyes-of-disappointment” at so many of my early baking attempts —  I’m still firing up the bread machine once or twice a week.  Here’s the recipe, streamlined even more than a few months ago.  (I can do this practically in my sleep — so I really shouldn’t complain about the time commitment.)

For a 2 pound bread machine; dump in ingredients in this order:

1 1/4 C warm water

2 T molasses

2 T honey

2 T butter (cut into small pieces)

1 1/2 t Rapid Rise or breadmachine yeast

3 1/3 C white whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur Brand)

1 1/2 t sea salt

2 T dry milk (I like Organic Valley)

Set bread machine to “wheat” setting — which is 3hrs and 40mins on my Zojirushi (that’s not nearly as kinky as it sounds — it’s a Japanese brand of bread machine)

Let cool on a wire wrack.  If you want a soft, grocery-store bread type crust, put it in a plastic bag to cool (and store it in the same bag) — weird, but it works great.

stuff dumped in the bread pan to make whole wheat bread -- look at the yeast going to town already
stuff dumped in the bread pan to make whole wheat bread — look at the yeast going to town already
whole wheat bread right out of the baking pan
whole wheat bread right out of the baking pan
wheat bread cooling inside the plastic bag
wheat bread cooling inside the plastic bag

I did slack off a bit on the whole grain bread rule recently, and don’t feel bad.  Homemade has got to be better than storebought anyday, right?  I can loosen the rules a bit.  Here’s a pic of my slightly Real Food-ed up Italian Bread.  I start it in the bread machine then bake in the oven for the more rustic look (but you can just leave it in the bread machine and get a standard looking loaf).  Isn’t it pretty?  Real Food bread?  Wellll….  Close!  A hard-core Real Fooder might say “Beth, ‘close’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”  And I would reply “Oh, lighten up and have another slice of bread!”

Italian Bread
Italian Bread

This is adapted from The Artisan Bread Machine for a 2 lb loaf.  Dump into bread pan in this order:

1 1/3 C warm water

1 lg egg, beaten

4 t olive oil

1 1/4 t bread machine yeast

3 C plus 3 T all purpose flour

1 C white whole wheat flour (this is the Real Food part I added!  replacing 1 C plus 1 T all purpose flour)

1 1/2 t sea salt

If you’re just leaving it in the bread machine, select the white cycle and go about your business.  If you want to take the dough out and reshape it and bake it in the oven (’cause you have a lot of frustrations to work out?  sure, go ahead!):

  • after the ingredients are in the pan, select the Dough cycle
  • line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  • when the cycle is finished, transfer dough to a floured surface and punch down gently
  • preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a broiler pan on the bottom rack
  • form dough into a 12 in. oblong load, place on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 mins
  • with a serrated knife, cut diagonal slices along the top of the risen loaf
  • add 2 C water to the broiling pan (to get some steam in the oven; it’s good for the crust)
  • place the baking sheet on the middle rack
  • bake until bread is risen, brown on top, and has an internal temp of 190 degrees (this takes 30-35 minutes)
  • remove from pan and cool on a wire rack before slicing

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