One Perfect Loaf, of many!

KAF perfect loaf
I’m teaching a breadmaking class tomorrow night (if you’d like to come, you’re totally invited! It’s just at my house with some friends. Contact me and I’ll give you details!), so I’m wondering why I haven’t put more bread recipes up here on my blog! I’ve been making bread for about fifteen years, and sometimes I still feel like a complete novice, even though I probably make between 6-10 loaves a week. It’s just amazingly complex, and yet a complete surprise every time. Usually a delightful surprise! This is a loaf I was very committed to about a year ago. Now, I’m into a new recipe (which should be posted shortly) but there are so many ways you can go about making bread, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour, which is such a great repository of baking knowledge and inspiration. I love the look of this loaf especially. It’s a little bit of a dazzler, and almost always gives you wings (the crust on the top that splits and sprays itself away from the loaf. Beautiful!). Anyway, their instructions are great and easy to follow, so I’ll include them here as well. This is King Arthur Flour’s definition of the perfect loaf of crusty bread. I’ll just add it to one of many that I love. I’ve changed their technique, because I didn’t want to use a bread machine, like they wrote the instructions for.

KAFs Perfect Crusty Loaf

THE SPONGE (BEGIN THE NIGHT BEFORE)

  • 1 cup cool water
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 2 tablespoons 100% Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon semolina flour

THE DOUGH

  • 1 cup cool water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups Unbleached Bread Flour
  1. To make the sponge: Place all of the sponge ingredients in a bucket and stir well. Let the sponge rest at room temperature overnight, or for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. The next day, add all of the dough ingredients to the sponge in the bucket.  Mix it well with your hands to form first a soft mass, then eventually a ball that’s soft, but not overly sticky. Adjust with additional flour or water as necessary.
  3. Cover again and let it rest for 30 minutes. If you want to leave the dough all day, place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and refrigerate it.
  4. When you’re ready to work with it, deflate the dough gently and form it into a round ball. Place the ball, seam side-down, on a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet.
  5. Cover the dough lightly. Let it rise a second time until it’s puffy and about 30% to 40% larger, about 1 hour (or longer, if the dough has been refrigerated). Don’t let it rise too much, since it rises some more in the oven and, if it’s over-proofed initially, it’ll collapse as it bakes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Make several 1/4″ to 1/2″ slashes or crosshatches in top of the loaf. Using a clean plant mister, spritz the loaf with water. Spray some water into the oven, and place the bread on the lowest rack.
  7. Spritz the oven walls every few minutes for the first 15 minutes of baking. Lower the heat to 425°F (this reduction in heat mimics the “falling oven” used by brick-oven bakers, and will give your bread an incredible crust), and continue to bake until well-browned, about 35 minutes. The interior temperature of the bread should register at least 190°F on a digital thermometer. [I use a cloche or dutch oven instead of spritzing the loaf, and I remove the lid after 25 minutes.]
  8. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack before slicing. 

Pepper, Sausage & Potato Bread

Sausage Pepper Potato BreadTwo weeks ago, after a great loss in our family, I was looking for something to make to both comfort and to give to my family members and myself. It is funny how sometimes embracing the very earthy task of eating can help us cope with the greater insecurities of loss and departure. But, that’s what we needed this night, and honestly, the time I spent chopping and adding vegetables to a big pot for a large batch of soup, and preparing the dough for this bread helped calm my mind, and I think I will remember this loaf for how it brought our family together that night.

It’s a beautiful loaf–a whole sandwich in one piece! as my cousin declared–and it’s one of those breads that you want to break with your hands, perhaps dip in melted cheese or a bit of soup, and just enjoy. I’ve adapted this recipe from Ruth Clemens’ the Pink Whisk Guide to BreadMaking. She uses chorizo and a hot pepper instead.

Pepper, Sausage & Potato Bread

1 medium potato, boiled and cooled
3 c. (375 g) bread flour
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. instant yeast
1/2 c. (120 g) sour cream
3 1/4 oz. water
1 link, Italian sausage
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, finely diced

  1. Grate the potato and combine in a large bowl with the flour, salt and yeast. Make a well in the center and add the sour cream and water. (You can warm the sour cream a little to quicken the process of raising, if you like). Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic (this can be done by hand or in a stand mixer, but it will only take 4-5 minutes in a mixer).
  2. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  3. While the dough rises, heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Remove the casing from the sausage, and cook it in a little bit of olive oil until browned, breaking it into small pieces as you stir.
  4.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface and spread it into a rough rectangle. Scatter the sausage and the diced pepper over the rectangle. Gather the dough together and knead gently for a couple of minutes to incorporate the additions. Place it back in the bowl and let it rest for a few minutes to make shaping easier.
  5. Line a colander or a bread bowl with a cotton dish towel that has been dusted liberally with flour.
  6. Take the dough out of the bowl and pat it out once again. Fold each outside edge in to the center, repeating all the way around. Repeat again, folding the outside to the middle until the dough is tightened up into a rough ball. Pop the ball of dough into the lined colander with the seam upwards.
  7. Fold the overhanding edges of the dish towel over the exposed dough and place in a warm position to rise until almost doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  8. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or grease it well. Unfold the dish towel and place the tray over the top of the colander. Invert the tray and colander together then remove the colander and dish towel. Dust the loaf with a little more flour and slash the top in a square pattern using a very sharp knife.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. When it’s baked through, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The crust will be firm as soon as it comes out of the oven, but will soften on cooling.

Sasuage Bread2

Orange & Chocolate Panettone

Panettone
I’ve been wanting to make panettone to have on Christmas morning for years, so I have had this recipe tucked away in a binder, waiting for the Christmas when I would be able to accomplish it. I’ve wanted to make this panettone in particular because, although I like the idea of an assortment of fruits and nuts in a Christmas bread, it isn’t that easy to find them where I live, and my kids don’t go for it. So, I thought that a more familiar orange and chocolate flavor would appeal to the whole family.

This year became the year for the panettone, which meant I actually had panettone paper liners (hooray!) and made the time to make this bread. But the thought that this would appeal to everyone? Well, I was wrong. The kids really wanted nothing to do with this bread. On the happy side, the adults just loved it. It was fantastic.

I know that the difference between store-bought anything and its homemade counterpart is usually quite distinctive, but this one really shows off. The texture is so much lighter and fresher and brighter than any panettone I’ve had before. The flavors are rich and full and the bread showcases them perfectly. Hopefully, when I bring this out in holidays to come, the kids will be more on board! This recipe comes from a 2009 copy of Martha Stewart Living. Also, note that this bread needs to be started at least 24 hours in advance, to allow for an overnight rise in the fridge.

Orange & Chocolate Panettone

  • 1 T. plus 1 1/2 t. active dry yeast (two 1/4-ounce envelopes)
  • 1/3 c. whole milk, warmed
  • 14 oz. unbleached bread flour (about 3 cups), plus more for surface
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 t. coarse salt
  • 10 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 c. diced candied (glazed) orange peel (make your own!)
  • 1/2 t. pure almond extract
  • 1/2 t. pure orange extract
  • Vegetable oil, for bowl
  • 2 t. best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pearl sugar, for sprinkling
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 T. sliced almonds, for sprinkling
  1. Sprinkle yeast over milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle 2 ounces flour (about 1/2 cup) and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar over top. Cover with plastic, and let stand for 1 hour.

  2. Add remaining 12 ounces flour and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, the beaten eggs, and the salt. Mix together on medium speed until dough forms a smooth, stiff ball, about 5 minutes. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition.

  3. Switch to paddle attachment, and mix dough on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add chocolate, orange peel, and extracts. Mix until combined.

  4. Turn out dough onto a clean surface, and form into a ball. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic, and refrigerate overnight.

  5. Bring dough to room temperature [this can take a little while!!], and divide in half. Form each half into a ball; place each in a 5 1/4-by-3 3/4-inch paper panettone mold. Transfer to a baking sheet. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly beat remaining egg and the cocoa powder together. Brush glaze mixture onto panettone dough, and sprinkle with pearl sugar and almonds. Bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes.

  7. Remove molds from oven, and run a wooden skewer horizontally through the bottom of each panettone loaf. Hang loaves upside down by propping ends of each skewer on 2 large, heavy cans [this step prevents the loaves from collapsing inwards. I was rushed on time and innovative thinking, so I just flipped them upside down. It worked fine because the loaves didn’t raise above the wrapper edges]. Let cool completely.

Harvest Grain Rolls

Version 2
So, now that this huge baking week is upon us, I’m looking around thinking, where are all my favorite recipes? Why are they not all on my blog! Why am I not organized!!! Last night, I combed through past pictures, seeing these pies and rolls that I’ve made, and connecting the dots to the recipes they belong to. My hope is to get them all on this fantastic, searchable space, before Wednesday, but if I get even one or two more on here before Thanksgiving, that will help my efforts (and maybe pass along some ideas to you!) next year.

The story of this roll is that I usually like to do a couple of different kinds of rolls, just for fun (I get a whole morning just to make rolls! What fun! I never get to do that except on Thanksgiving morning!), for Thanksgiving dinner, and this is one I usually serve along with a crusty roll and a soft, buttery roll (here are two I like: a crescent and pull-apart). I think they all compliment each other quite well. This recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour website, although, unlike their website but not to disparage the quality of their ingredients, I am not specifying that you should use KAF products exclusively 🙂 NOTE: this will probably not be the most popular roll at the dinner table, but it will be very appreciated when it comes to leftover turkey the next day, when we are all wishing we had eaten a few less white starchy foods the day before. And they are very yummy.

Harvest Grain Rolls

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. whole flax meal (I just whiz my flax around in my blender)
  • 2 1/2 t. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. canola oil or melted butter
  • 1 large egg yolk, white reserved for topping
  • 3 T. honey
  • 1/4 c. orange juice*
  • 3/4 to 7/8 c. lukewarm water**
  • *Orange juice won’t add its own flavor to the rolls, but will mellow any potential bitterness in the whole wheat.
  • **Use the greater amount of liquid in winter or in drier climates; the lesser amount in summer, or in a humid environment.

TOPPING

  • 1 large egg white, reserved from dough, whisked with 2 T. cold water
  • rolled oats and/or flax seeds, for topping
  1. Combine all of the ingredients, and mix until cohesive. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes, to give the whole grains a chance to absorb some of the liquid. Then knead — by hand, stand mixer, or bread machine — to make a smooth, soft, elastic dough.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, or in an 8-cup measure (so you can track its progress as it rises), and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it’s risen noticeably. It won’t necessarily double in bulk.
  3. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 12 pieces (about 70g each). Shape each piece into a round ball; use your fingers to pull and flatten each ball into a circle about 3″ across.
  4. Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about 90 minutes, until noticeably puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Brush the buns with the egg white/water mixture. Sprinkle with oats and/or flax seeds.
  6. Bake the buns for 21 to 25 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
  7. Wrap completely cooled buns airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
  8. Yield: 12 buns.

Cinnamon Apple Fritters


Apple Fritters
Now that the nights are starting to chill again, I’m returning to some favorite fall recipes to welcome in the season
. This recipes comes from Elinor Klivans’ Donuts, which is such a fun read. This recipe takes about the same amount of time as pancakes (if you start your oil heating before anything else), and they are so yummy. Worth a special breakfast and a great way to use the fall apples. I usually double this recipe, which I guess makes about 2 dozen. 

Cinnamon Apple Fritters

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. grated lemon zest
1/2 t. vanilla
1 large apple, cored, peeled, and finely chopped [I’ve also used 1 c. dehydrated apples and soaked them in 1/2 c. warm water while I prepared the rest, and it works really well]
Canola or peanut oil for deep-frying

Cinnamon Glaze
3 T. unsalted butter, melted
2 1 /4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 T. hot water

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the milk, egg, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla to the well and stir with a fork until well blended. Add the apple and stir just until evenly distributed.

Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a deep-fryer or deep, heavy saute pan and warm over medium-high heat utnil it reads 360 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer.

Using a metal spoon, scoop up a rounded tablespoonful of the batter and drop into the hot oil, or scrape in using a second spoon. Repeat to add 5 or 6 more fritters to the oil. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan. The fritters should float to the top and puff to about double their size. Deep-fry until dark golden on the first side, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, a wire skimmer, or a slotted spoon, turn and fry until dark golden on the second side, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to the towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Reheat to fry the remaining fritters, allowing the oil to return to 360 between batches. [It’s a trick to control the temperature of the oil if you don’t have a deep fryer. For my electric stove, it works best to heat the oil on high for 5-7 minutes, then lower the temperature to about a “6.” I’m sure every stove has its quirks, so the first batch my be a bit of a trial.]

Arrange fritters on a platter and, using a spoon, drizzle about 1 t. of the glaze over each. Let the glaze set for 10 minutes. Serve.

For the Glaze:
In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and 2 T. hot water until smooth. Whisk in 1-2 t. more hot water if needed to give the glaze a thin, light consistency. Use right away.

Poppyseed Plum Muffins

Plum Poppyseed Muffin
So, this sudden increase of muffin recipes on my blog is due to the alarming realization I had the other day when I searched for muffin recipes on my blog, and I realized I only had a handful here. This is so strange, because I make muffins all the time. Like, once or twice a week. Where have I been putting all these recipes? I’m not sure, but I’m going back and cataloguing them all, so that in the future when I search for my favorite muffins, they will all be here.

This is a recipe I worked long and hard at getting right for high altitude. I loved the idea of a plum muffin, but the original recipe (from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook), had great flavor and a disastrous texture. In fact, the muffins just blew across the top of the pan, as only muffins baked at high altitude do. So, I worked long and hard to get it right. Feel free, of course, to look up and use the original recipe, as this recipe is quite a bit changed. But if you do seek out the original, I still highly recommend 1/4 c. more sugar and some almond extract. It really makes them, well, a favorite here.

Poppyseed Plum Muffins

6 T. (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted (and browned, if you have inclination)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c. (50 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 c. (180 grams) rich, full-fat plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 c. (60 grams) whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 c. (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t. baking powder (2 t. if not at high altitude)
1/4 t. table salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. almond extract
2 T. (20 grams) poppy seeds
2 c. pitted and diced plums, from about 3/4 pound (340 grams) Italian prune plums (though any plum variety will do)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter twelve muffin cups or line with cupcake liners.

Whisk the egg with the sugar in the bottom of a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then the sour cream (yogurt), and almond extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seeds, and then stir them into the sour cream mixture until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy. Fold in the plums.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rest muffins in the pan on a cooling rack for 2 minutes, then remove them from the tin to cool them completely.

Dulce de Leche Pear Muffins

Dulce de Leche Pear Muffins
I have some firmer pears that my kids just weren’t eating, so I decided to bake them up, and see if that helped their appeal. I found this recipe in a darling British baking book called Family Baking, and I’ve changed it a bit, but loved the results. Very beautiful muffins, not very sweet, and the dab of dulce de leche on top seemed to be the perfect thing. A nice little treat to welcome in the almost-here fall weather.

Dulce de Leche Pear Muffins

8 T. butter
2/3 c. milk
3 large eggs
6 T. dulce de leche (I used Trader Joe’s)
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 1/2 c. spelt flour (you may also use wheat, oat, or white flour, if you prefer)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
2 large, firm pears, cored, peeled, and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with liners.

Microwave the butter for twenty-five seconds (or until melted) and let cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, and using a balloon whisk, whisk together the milk, eggs, 2 T. of the dulce de leche, the sugar, and the melted butter.

Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, and spices and whisk together. Scatter the chopped pear over the top and, using a wooden spoon, gently fold it in until just combined.

Divide the mixture between the muffin tins. Sprinkle each muffin with a little bit of sugar, and bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

Let muffins cool slightly on a rack, then remove from the tin and place about a teaspoon of dulce de leche on the top of each muffin.

Watermelon Sparklers

Watermelon Sprinklers2
There’s of course so many riffs on the American flag when it comes to cakes, cookies, pies, and jello, but I felt like our 4th of July celebration needed something not so sweet. This was my favorite pinterest idea. So pretty, so festive, and one more good thing to eat. Happy Fourth! Don’t worry, there will be plenty of pies and ice cream cake to eat as well.

Sweet & Simple Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Roll WS
I know there are a million cinnamon rolls on the web, but I’m adding this one to the chaos. It’s great. It’s simple. The orange zest in it makes it memorable, and it’s light enough that you don’t need a bulldozer to lift you after eating one (I’m thinking Cinnabon here–yummy roll, but maybe a week’s worth of sweetness!). I’ve also learned two little tricks about cinnamon rolls. 1) If you roll them really tight, you can get the middle to pop up while baking, which is very pretty, and 2) you can make them in the evening through the second rise, then put them in the fridge overnight, making the morning pretty simple. And delicious.

Sweet & Simple Cinnamon Rolls

for the rolls

  • 5 t. active dry yeast (2 packages)
  • 1 c. warm milk
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 1/2 c. flour [up to 1 1/2 c. can be whole wheat, if you’d like]
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground mace [I haven’t put in, because I can’t find it yet!]
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/2 c. room temperature butter

for the filling

  • 1/2 c. room temperature butter
  • 1/2 c.  sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 6 T. flour
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon

for the glaze

  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla

In a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, add the yeast and the warm milk. Allow the mixture to stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is foamy. Add the sugar, eggs, flour, salt, mace, orange zest and butter. If you’re using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, or knead the dough by hand, until a smooth and elastic dough is formed.

Oil a large bowl and place the dough into it. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 2 hours.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and place it onto a floured surface. Cut the dough in half. Roll one half of the dough into a 10 inch x 16 inch rectangle. Cover with half of the filling mixture. Starting with the 16 inch side, roll the rectangle toward you. Pinch the edges and ends of the roll together to seal it. Cut the roll into 8 slices. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.

Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment so that they’re barely touching one another. Cover the baking sheet with a towel and let the rolls rise for 30-40 minutes. Or, place them in the refrigerator and allow them to rise overnight. If you refrigerate them, allow them to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.

Bake the rolls on the middle rack of the oven preheated to 400 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean.  Cover the rolls with the glaze (above) while the rolls are still warm.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

KAF Whole Wheat

So, usually bread isn’t 100% whole wheat flour, because adding white flour improves the texture and flavor of the loaf so much, and makes it much more like  the store-bought bread we are used to eating. When a bread recipe does make something with 100% whole wheat, it usually adds many unusual ingredients to make it not as dry and to improve the flavor (I’ve seen applesauce, eggs, potato flakes, orange juice, etc). I was surprised to see this recipe voted “Best recipe of 2014” by King Arthur Flour for that very reason. Could 100% whole wheat bread that didn’t have a ton of extra steps and extra strange ingredients be the best recipe of year? Well, it surprisingly is a really great recipe. Not the most mouth-watering thing you can bake, but a really useful recipe, especially when I swing towards the, “my kids are junk-food addicts! NO white sugar or flour for at least, you know, today!” side of the pendulum. On the down side,  though, after two days, this loaf was quite dry (still suitable for toast and bread crumbs and croutons), but, as always, bread freezes fabulously, so just pop it in the freezer if you find it partially uneaten within two days.

King Arthur Flour’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread

  • 1 to 1 1/8 c. lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. honey, molasses, or maple syrup [I prefer honey]
  • 3 1/2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 1/2 t. yeast or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
  • 1/4 c. nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 t. salt
  • *Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. For easiest, most effective kneading, let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes in the bowl; this gives the flour a chance to absorb some of the liquid, and the bran to soften. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

2) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

3) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

4) Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

5) Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Yield: 1 loaf.