January 13, 2014

Simple Wheat Loaf with Herbed Butter

Check out this photo from a snowy day now long gone! I made this hearty loaf and a jar of herbed garlic butter and brought them to the print shop to accompany a long day at the Vandercook. At the shop, we all work really hard on our own projects and are billed by the hour, so we do our best to be efficient! This sometimes means that we are very focused and don't do much chatting. Call me midwestern, but I often find myself missing the collaborative studios of my past with their inked-up boom boxes, storytellers, and dog piles. With the spirit of Michigan in tow, I do my best to keep my co-printers well-snacked with whatever is fated to bring on the chatters, gluten first!

I've published this recipe a number of times and am constantly re-visiting its words. This is no deluxe sourdough or seeded rye, but it is a great partner for soups and sandwiches alike with its hearty crunch and soft, puffy interior.

3 1/2 cups high gluten flour (or all purpose if you don't have HG)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. yeast
1-2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar

In a large bowl, stir together the fours, salt, and yeast. Using a large ball jar, mix 2 cups of warm water with the sugar until dissolved. Slowly add the water while stirring (you may need more or less water) until a loose ball forms. Knead on a floured surface for ten minutes until very elastic. Place in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic. I use old grocery bags here to cover the bowl completely. Set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Once the dough has doubled, punch the dough down and form a tight ball. Place the ball in a floured towel to let rest for 20 more minutes. Place a shallow pan with 1/2 inch of water in it on the bottom of your oven. This will help keep the environment humid and will ensure a nice crumb! Preheat your oven to 475. If you are baking in a cast iron pan, Place the cast iron in the oven to heat. Once the oven is preheated, carefully remove the pan and coat with a little oil and cornmeal. Place the floured loaf in the pan and slash with a big X. Reduce the heat to 400 and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and hollow when knocked.

Garlic Herb Butter
1 large clove garlic (crushed)
1 pinch salt
1 Tbs. dill (chopped very finely)
2 tsp. flat leaf parsley (chopped very finely)
fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup earth balance or vegan margarine

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic into the salt. Add to softened butter with the herbs (and any other fresh herbs you have around) and finish with freshly ground pepper. Let chill for an hour before serving.


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