Light Wheat Bread

Food is expensive. This week I’ve been attempting to cook with cheaper ingredients (i.e. less meat) and cut costs at the grocery store. We can’t change how much we spend on rent and bills, but we can change how much we spend on food.

With this in mind, I made several recipes from Budget Bytes this week. Including Italian Wonderpot, Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup, Cajun Chicken Pasta and Tomato Herb Soup. So far I’ve made the first two recipes and will cook up the latter two by Sunday.

And so far so good! We’ve had plenty of leftovers, the recipes were cheap to make and tasted great!

But I also wanted to try my hand at breadmaking. I buy Villaggio bread at the grocery store, which costs more than $3.00 a loaf!

I’ve made Apple and Honey Challah before, and it was quite good, but I could never bring myself to make bread regularly because it seemed to go bad so quickly.

Then I found the perfect recipe and decided to try making bread regularly, rather than buying in the store. Let’s face it, homemade bread tastes so much better than store-bought! It’s cheaper, too :). I also learned that using milk (or dairy in general) can increase the shelf-life of bread.* Who knew?

Here’s the recipe I used, adapted from Smitten Kitchen‘s Light Wheat Bread recipe.

Light Wheat Bread

Makes one loaf

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warmed milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) of active-dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (not too hot!)
1 tsp granulated sugar

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I forgot to include the salt and honey in this picture (oops!) but don’t forget them when making your bread!

1. Add the yeast to a bowl and stir in warm water. Add sugar and allow yeast to foam and double in size. It is now active. You can also do this according to the packet directions, if you bought a packet and not a container of yeast.

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2. Stir together the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Add softened (or slightly melted) butter, honey, yeast mixture and slowly add milk. Stir to combine until dough comes together. It should be soft, not tough.

I ended up adding a mixture of water and milk when I made my dough. I added a cup of warmed milk and needed some more liquid so added a bit of water.

3. Sprinkle flour on the counter and knead your dough for about 8-10 minutes. The dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky! Add more flour if sticky.

4. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or cover with a towel.

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5. Allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until dough doubles in size.

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6. Remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a rectangle and roll up the length of the dough into a log. Place the roll in a lightly oiled bread pan, ensuring that the ends of the loaf touch the ends of the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

7. Allow dough to rise for a second time for approximately 60 – 90 minutes.

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8. Preheat oven to 350 F with oven rack in middle.

9. Place bread in oven for 25-30 minutes and then rotate and bake for another 15 minutes. Baking times depend on the oven. However, the finished loaf  will be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

10. When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour (or if you’re like me, try to make it to the 30 minute mark…) before slicing or serving.

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Enjoy!

*Milk adds to the shelf-life of bread according to a few commentators here. With my own experimentation, however, I found this to be true as well. I’ve made bread with only water and it lasted two days. I’m now on the fourth day with the above loaf and it still tastes great and hasn’t gotten stale!

 
Also, here’s an interesting link about using liquids in breads.

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