By Lisa Doran N.D, Posted June 2007.
My own childhood is filled with memories of my mother making bread.
She used to make bread about 2 times a week for our family and for
my mother it was something she did in the very early morning usually,
when the house was quiet. I see it now as an almost meditative experience
for her. For a child bread making is a wonderful sensory experience.
Putting on the special bread making apron, getting out the special
big bowl that is only used for bread making, the big wooden spoon
and that special tea towel we use to cover the rising dough - always
the same little ritual around preparing for breadmaking. The smell
of the yeast, the stickiness of the dough, being allowed to help
out and knead the dough. The anticipation as it rises. The increadible
smell as it bakes. And the extra treat of that first slice hot out
of the oven.
Home baked bread fresh from the oven is something my children will
always eat and so I try to make it as nutrient dense as possible.
I will use whey liquid when I have it, which is a by-product from
our own cheese making - to replace the water for extra protein.
I will try and always use home made butter, unpasteurized honey
and mineral rich Celtic sea salt that is still a brownish colour
because if its dense mineral content. For flour I'll use kamut or
spelt or freshly ground organic whole wheat - to get the most vitamins
as I can in the loaf of bread (happily my family does not seem to
suffer ill effects from freshly ground organic whole wheat flour).
However, this recipe will work for straight bleached, white all
purpose flour as well - but will not be as nutrient dense.
I'll also add all kinds of things to increase the nutritive value
- choose only one or perhaps two of these options for a batch of
bread, as choosing too many will overpower the bread. You can use
flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or you can use sprouted
seeds of any variety (my favourite is pumpkin, sunflower and flax
combined) which have been soaked over night so that they start to
break open and sprout - again adding a vitamin packed addition.
I'll add raisins or molasses to increase the iron content. Nuts
can be added if they are chopped very small or ground into flour
- I'll often use small walnut pieces or ground almonds. For each
of these additions you only need 2-4 tbsp to add to the bread recipe.
If I have fresh herbs they can be added for flavour - garlic and
thyme is lovely - you can experiment if you have a small herb garden
and find the combination that works best for you.
By creating delicious bread that is a family favourite and is a
densely nutritious bread you can guarantee that your children are
getting all the protein, vitamins and minerals that they need with
a very simple and healthy meal of bread and soup.
My Bread recipe is as follows:
1 ½ cup hot water
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
Mix together in a medium sized bowl with a wooden spoon so that
the butter melts and the honey dissolves
4 tsp yeast (or one packet of the prepackaged yeast)
½ cup warm water
- mix together in a small bowl with a wooden spoon and allow the
yeast to dissolve in the bowl - try not to have the yeast all clump
up in one lump, it's not a tragedy if it does but it's better form
if it does. When the yeast is dissolved add to the medium sized
bowl in the first step and mix the entire group of wet ingredients
together and let sit in a warm place for about 5 minutes to allow
the yeast to start to work. It will bubble and foam and create the
surface of the mixture to rise up.
6 cups flour
- I use 2 large bowls or a small wash tub and a large bowl for
this next step. First, we want to grease one of the large bowls.
Use just a tiny bit of olive oil in one of the large bowls and use
your fingers to make sure that the entire bowl has had olive oil
rubbed on it. The other bowl or wash tub will be your kneading bowl.
First I add 3 cups of flour to the kneading bowl, then all my wet
ingredients. I stir this with a wooden spoon until I have mixed
all the dry ingredients with the wet. Then I slowly add the next
3 cups of flour, making sure each addition is well mixed in before
I add more, until my bread dough is very stiff and difficult to
stir. I will then knead my dough either straight in the bowl or
the washtub (which makes clean up very easy) or on the counter top
which has been sprinkled with flour.
Kneading dough is very simply the pulling of the edges of the dough
toward the center with the fingers and then the pushing down in
the middle of the dough with the heels of the hands. You will need
to use a very stable surface for this - as it's hard work and the
pushing and pulling is often very vigorous! A rickety table or surface
is probably not the best choice for bread making. Kneading usually
takes 7-10 minutes. It will vary depending on your ingredients.
You will know you are finished kneading when your dough feels like
sweaty palms. Children love this stage. If my 3 year old is by my
side (as he always is) as I make my bread I'll give him a small
lump of dough to knead and make his own loaf. If my 10 year old
is around he loves to tackle the whole project.
When your dough is finished kneading we are going to place it into
the greased bowl for the first rising. Simply plunk your ball of
dough round side down into the greased bowl, swirl it around for
a moment to coat that side in olive oil and then flip it over so
the ungreased side is now the bottom. Cover with a clean, dry tea
towel and set in a warm part of your kitchen to rise.
The first rising takes about 45 minutes - it make take 60 minutes
if you've added heavy ingredients like sprouted seeds (sprouted
seeds seem to produce a bread that doesn't rise as well as other
breads, but is still delicious and nutrient dense). After the 45
minutes lift off the tea towel. You will notice that your bread
has increased in bulk. You can punch down the bread right in the
bowl at this point - and punching the bread down is really what
it sounds like. Use your fist to push the dough down and get rid
of some of the air bubbles from rising.
This recipe makes 2 loaves, so at this point I will usually grease
two bread tins, or if I'm making a free form round loaf I will grease
a couple of cookie sheets. Divide the dough in half and knead each
loaf briefly - mostly to get out any air bubbles trapped inside
the loaf - maybe for two minutes.
This is the point where, if your children want to get creative
with the bread that you can create bread sculptures - bread dragons
seem to be a favourite in my house - I'm sure your children can
think of other ideas as well. Parents can also get creative at this
stage as well. You can divide the amount of dough for one loaf into
three sections, roll them so they are long and ropey and then braid
them, or create a round loaf like calbrease bread. If you are using
pans this is the point where you place your bread into your lightly
greased pans or if you are making a free form loaf then shape it
and place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
You can score the top of the bread if you wish for a decorative
effect. Generally three short slashes with a knife on the top of
a loaf of bread is nice. Then we cover the bread in the tins with
a clean dry tea towel and let them rise for the second time. This
will take another 45-60 minutes. Heat your oven up to 400°F
now so that the temperature in the oven is even when you put your
bread in the oven.
Once the bread has finished rising the second time then it can
simply be placed directly in the hot oven - careful not to bump
or bang it as this will often cause your bread to "fall"
and all the nice rising of the past hour to diminish.
The bread should be baked for 15-25 minutes or until when tapped
on the surface it sounds hollow. Bread should be a nice brown colour.
Remove bread from pans immediately to cool on cooling racks - otherwise
the bread could stick to the pan as it cools.
Nothing smells or tastes better than homemade bread right out of
the oven smothered with butter and strawberry jam. Yum.
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