Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Staple Recipe: 50/50 Bread

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which is an excellent read if you've never read it), I was inspired to try regularly making bread at home. I had tried making bread by hand using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method before Luc was born, which worked great, but I had trouble sticking with it.

I didn't have great memories of my mother's attempts with her bread machine. It usually ended up with bread that if you dropped it on your foot you could injure yourself and that wasn't very tasty. So, I was surprised that Barbara Kingsolver's husband used the bread machine to make their bread in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. But, I figured it would be worth a shot. Turns out my mom still had that bread machine packed away, so I borrowed it. My first attempts were terrible. 

So I borrowed a bunch of books on bread machine baking from the library, and set to work trying to learn how to produce edible bread. Turns out it is possible to make really good bread from a bread machine and we haven't bought bread since I started using the machine 4 months ago. These two books: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook and Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand were indispensable to me in becoming a bread machine convert. 

This half white, half whole wheat bread recipe is our daily bread. It took me a lot of tries to get it how we like it (like 15+!). It goes with everything and makes great toast. Please note that this bread is unsuitable for the delay timer setting. 

(I'm still working on a 100% whole wheat bread that isn't too heavy and also isn't too sweet tasting)

50/50 Bread

- 1 1/4 cups water, room temp
- 1 lg egg
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour (or Canadians can also use all-purpose)
- 3 tbsp dry buttermilk powder*
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp gluten*
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

 Place all of the ingredients in the pan, except yeast, in the order listed. Make an well with your finger in the dry ingredients and add the yeast. 

Set crust on medium and program for Basic (White) or Whole Wheat cycle (my mother's bread machine made it better on Whole Wheat Cycle, my new one works better on Basic; try both).

Remove immediately from pan when done. Let cool before slicing. Can also be frozen. 

* makes one 1 1/2 lb loaf

* you can find dry buttermilk powder and gluten (also called Vital Wheat Gluten) at bulk goods or health food stores as well as some better stocked grocery stores.


  1. Although I'd really like to, I cannot seem to get into the habit of baking bread regularly. Maybe a bread machine would be a good investment.

    Anyway, I have one question. Have you experimented with the amount of gluten you add? I think that Canadian all-purpose flour already has a fairly high protein content, but since this recipe is half whole wheat, maybe it is necessary. Do you think using a bread machine makes a difference?


  2. Hi Mark,

    I would definitely recommend giving a bread machine a shot -- you can always see if someone you know has one to borrow for a couple months so you can trial it and see if you like it.

    I actually experimented extensively with the gluten, trying everything from none up to 2 tbsp. I also tried it with bread flour and all-purpose. 1 1/2 tbsp is what I found worked consistently the best for me. Of course it would really depend on what exact flours you used - you may be able to decrease to 1 tbsp, also depending on your preferred texture-- but I definitely found it necessary. I can't really explain why bread in the bread machine often needs the extra lift provided by added gluten, but it does seem to be the case.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...