Making Yeast Bread by Hand in a Small Kitchen
I don’t have room in my tiny kitchen for a bread maker, not on the counter, not in a cabinet. I had a juicer for a while and got rid of it because of space issues. I use the blender to make smoothies instead. But, the lack of space doesn’t mean I can’t make delicious whole-wheat yeast bread by hand. And so can you.
I know, it sounds crazy to imagine finding the time to let bread rise and to knead it, especially when there’s the very real risk it won’t even rise. Bread is thought to be finicky. Or so I thought until I tried the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Feeding the Whole Family. You can find the author’s recipe for the whole grain bread here as well.
What I love about this recipe and what got me to try it is that you start with leftover hot cereal. In my house, we make oat or multi-grain hot cereal at least once a week and always have some leftover in the pan. (We like Country Choice Multi Grain that we find at Trader Joe’s or Bob’s Redmill 8 Grain or good ‘ole Quaker Oats.)
I don’t make bread once a week, but I could. It’s that easy especially when done over the weekend. You can make the starter with the hot cereal a few days ahead of making the bread batter too. So, one week, for example, you can cook hot cereal on Thursday, quickly make the starter, and put it in the frig until the weekend. Here’s how:
1. Make the Starter Dough
Put about 2 cups of leftover hot cereal in the blender and blend with water.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the oil, salt, and yeast. (See the recipe for exact portions.) Add whole wheat flour until the mixture has the consistency of thick cereal.
2. Ferment the Starter Dough
Cover the mixture and leave it alone for up to 2 days. I did the first part on Saturday afternoon. After the mixture ferments, you can refrigerate it and make bread within a week. Or, like me, on the next day, a Sunday, I made the bread by adding maple syrup, oil, and sea salt.
3. Knead the Dough and Let It Rise
This is when you get the wonderful experience of mixing the dough with your entire hand and then kneading it.
Let the dough rise in a warm place for a couple of hours. The oven had been on while we were cooking chili, so it seemed a good place as ever.
It’s fun to check on the dough as it rises.
4. Shape the Dough
Split mixture in half and shape it into a square and then slap it down to remove any air bubbles. My kids loved this part!
Follow the recipe on how to fold the bread into the proper shape and then place in greased pans.
4. Fill the House with the Aroma of Baked Bread
Bake for about 45 minutes, inhale, salivate, remove from oven, break off a steaming hot piece, slather with butter, and eat.
This recipe makes a great sandwich bread or as Katie enjoyed it, with eggs. Now that I’ve mastered this simple recipe (have made it successfully about six times) and have it in my repertoire, I hope to try some more yeast bread recipes. I’ve heard that the Tessajara Bread Book is a must for learning different baking techniques.
Let us know if you bake and your favorite recipes.
Posted by Leslie