When I moved to New York City in 2011, I became quite dismayed by how much I needed to spend on good quality food. Granted, things are different in every store; but thing with which I had the most difficult time, is the bread.
I tried a number of types of breads from all sorts of locations- Whole Foods, Amy’s Bread, random bakeries, Food Emporium, Trader Joes, and Fairway. Unfortunately, the breads were almost always too sugary, too dry, too full of holes from rising, or too expensive. To fix this issue, we bought a bread machine.
The bread machine was around $80 and seemed like it would be the perfect remedy to our bread misfortunes. It was not. The directions were off or the machine was off, but somehow at the bottom there was only a hard clump and loose flour at the end of the 3.5 hour mark. Fed up and determined to have some fresh bread for the evening, I scanned the internet for an easy bread recipe. Low and behold, I found the perfect one!
It took me a few trials and loaves to get the hang of how I wanted to spin this recipe.
Whole Wheat or Dunkel Option: We found this type to be heavier and denser. It never rises as much as the whiter flours do.
All Purpose White Flour Option (type 405): This is probably the quickest option as most people already have this type of flour in their kitchen. It gives a much lighter bread than the whole wheat option.
Half Whole Wheat + Half All Purpose White Flour Option: As you may guess, this option gives the bread a density in the middle. It’s my second favorite option to make.
Bread Flour Option: I have found this option yields the most fluffy bread loaves.
Half Bread Flour + Half Whole Wheat Flour Option: This is “healthier” and fluffier than purely dark bread.
Half Bread Flour + Half White Flour: Extremely fluffy! It may taste sweeter to some and is probably closer to main stream breads.
Some of my secrets
If your home is on the cool side, let the bread rise in the sun and let it rise longer than suggested.
Add some of your favorite nuts and seeds to the bread for a more interesting and exciting experience.
Replace the honey with Agave Syrup, Molasses, or Maple Syrup.
I have found that warmer water makes for more active yeast. But be careful not to make it too hot!
Once you get comfortable with the basic process, you can let the bread rise and fall as you wish. I started to knead the bread after an hour, form the loaves, and then let it rise again for another hour. When I started to make this bread 2 years ago, I was very careful not to let it stay in the oven too long. But over the years, I have become more comfortable with letting the bread get a little dark on the outside. I also started to let the bread bake at exactly 20 minutes on the hottest temperature (220C/430F) and then exactly 10 minutes on the lowest temperature (160C/320F).
Energy Saving Advice
Make two or more batches at once and plan to freeze them so you don’t have to keep using the oven at such high temperatures.
I typically make six tiny loaves for my husband and I. Depending on how much bread you need vs how much you will consume in the moment, I suggest making at least 6. They are small, a perfect fit for quart-sized plastic bags, and easy to reheat.
Reheating Bread Loaves
Remove the bread from the freezer and let thaw.
Most often, I remove the frozen loaf the night before and just let it sit in the oven on the rack.
Be sure to remove the bread from the bag before thawing or else it will become soggy.
When fully thawed, place directly on oven rack and turn the oven on to 350F.
Most ovens will signal in some way or another when the oven is heated. When you hear or see the signal, turn off the oven and KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED.
After 10-15 minutes with the door closed, remove the bread and enjoy!
Place directly on oven rack and turn the oven on to 350F.
Most ovens will signal in some way or another when the oven is heated. When you hear or see the signal, turn off the oven and remove the bread.