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Friday, July 23, 2010

Homemade bread (low in calories and delicious!)

My mother and grandmother always told me it was the German in my blood, but whatever the reason, I love bread! I love artisan breads, I love huge warm loaves of whole wheat bread, I love focaccia bread (especially on Panera's sandwiches!), I love warm loaves of crusty bread with tender melt-in-your mouth bread inside of the crust--I love bread!

I also love kneading bread. I had a bread machine given to me years ago and it sat unused because I didn't like the texture of the bread and I certainly didn't want a machine taking away the pleasure of standing at the counter and feeling the bread becoming "perfect". Kneading bread and hanging out clothes are two very real therapies in my life. (Anyone care to psychoanalyze me on those?)

With all that said I'll get to this week's bread adventure! Since we moved to Crossville I had tried to make my wonderful, high-rising, Honey Wheat Bread from Weight Watcher's Annual Recipes for Success 2000 book. It is a delicious bread and you can eat a good slice for only 1 Weight Watchers point. It slices well for sandwiches and toast and it is out of this world fresh out of the oven with real butter and honey on it. (the heel please!)

The first time I tried it I was shocked to bring out of the oven a heavy, odd-textured bread. I knew I was in trouble with the feel of the dough and also the lack of quick rising it usually gives me.

I tried it again about two weeks later thinking it was the change in altitude. However, when I read up on that you should be adjusting to the bread rising quicker than normal-not laying in the bowl like a "deadbread"! Sure enough, I had the same sick bread as the first time.

Now I don't like wasting food so it was put in the freezer for making a chicken dressing or some other way of disguising a food that otherwise wouldn't be eaten!

The next time I thought I had it figured out---possibly the fact I'd replaced the half and half with skim milk! (I couldn't afford half and half at the time.) Tried it again and figured the half and half into the food budget. It flopped!

Next thought--"Oh no! I can't bake bread at this house! Something's wrong with the humidity or something here!" Dumb thought, I knew that wasn't true, I've baked bread every house I've lived in with success.

So then I remembered that the bread flour I was using was given to me and it had been stored in a freezer. I've stored flour in a freezer lots of times but never bread flour and I had no idea how long that lady had kept it in her freezer.

So I went and bought a bag of all-purpose flour (couldn't afford bread flour) and got out my faithful gluten that I use in my breads. Researched online and found out I needed to put 1 T. of gluten in each cup of all-purpose flour, I used regular skim milk but added 2-3 T. of butter (need that fat!) and tried it again. Awwww..... it is so good. I wish all of you could have been here and enjoyed that bread with us. The kids love it and we don't feel guilty enjoying it.

Just a little comparison with my other breads. My whole wheat bread (which is so good--my sister Kristi gets the praise for giving me that recipe.) is 2.5 Weight Watchers points per slice. Well worth it if you're not on a diet. Most slices of store bought bread are about 100-110 calories a slice unless you know just what you're looking for.

Even with my adjustments this bread still comes out just 1 point or about 70 calories a slice. (has low fat and a gram of fiber) I intend to play with it more. Try upping the whole wheat (with added gluten) and seeing if we can up the fiber a little more. The picture here you will see it looks like white bread--that's because I am using a white whole wheat flour I got on clearance!

Ok--here's the recipe! Enjoy!

Honey Wheat Bread

2 pkgs. dry yeast (I buy bulk yeast at the Mennonite general store)

1/3 cup honey (ditto-I buy honey by the gallon at the Mennonite Community)

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)

1 cup half and half (I've also used low fat half and half and it worked just fine) *I have to limit fat to between 20-30 grams per day for health reasons. (And eat "good" fat.)

4 lg. eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 1/2 tsps. salt

4 3/4 cups bread flour

Cooking spray

1. Dissolve yeast and honey in warm water in mixing bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add half-and-half and eggs; beat at medium speed of a heavy-duty stand mixer until well blended. Add

whole-wheat flour and salt, beating well. Stir in bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough.

2. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

4. Punch dough down; turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with one portion at a a time (cover remaining dough to keep it from drying out), roll each portion into a 12- x 8-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Roll up each rectangle tightly, starting with a short side. Press firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal. Place each roll of dough, seam side down, in an 8- x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

5. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

7. Bake bread at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove bread from pans immediately, and let cool on wire racks. YIELD: 3 loaves. 48 servings (serving size 1/2-inch slice).

NOTE: You may use a dough hook and a heavy-duty stand mixer for kneading, if desired.

* My note--don't try to use a mixer unless you have a heavy duty mixer!

**I bake two loaves of bread and make 12 rolls in a round cake pan. They rise so pretty and you get a huge roll with your homemade supper you've made for your family for 1 point (compared to 3-7 points for regular dinner rolls.) I would have pictures but we consumed them with our salisbury steak and gravy supper before I thought of the camera! :)

***If you aren't sure when to stop putting flour in (because the weather really affects this) then stop when it begins pulling away from the sides of the bowl or when it quits being really sticky. However, it's better to stop when it's a little too wet (and knead the flour in) then to let it get too dry.

Well, daughters, that's about it for today. I have the cutest sewing project (mother-daughter) that Cierra and I tackled two weeks ago I keep putting on here--but that's another blog!

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