Occupy Your Kitchen

In our series of supporting a more self-reliant stance, we thought there was no better place than the kitchen. When we are provided with cheap sources for our most basic needs, it is too easy to go for the end product so you can focus on other not so basic needs. However, this trend has allowed most of us to forget how to perform these simple tasks. It also has allowed others to dictate the ingredients, flavor and purpose. I think about items such as the ready-made frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Really? Have we become so incompetent, we cannot make our kids a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Are the preservatives, artificial flavors and colors an added value to their diet?

Today we tackle the most basic of food items in most kitchens: bread. Simple bread consists of six ingredients: flour, sugar, water, salt, yeast and butter. We add in one more ingredient, dried milk, for flavoring. It is something that takes planning due to the rising dough process. It is also a task you want to do in bulk, so you can freeze for future use. One baking time a month is all most need for a month’s worth of fresh home-baked bread.

This recipe, stolen from a class taken at King Arthur Flour Baking School, provides you an old fashion crust-less sandwich bread. Can you make it without the special pan? Yes, but then you will get a crust and rounded loaf instead.

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups (24 ounces) of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ Cup dried milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons salt
  • 2 ½ Teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 Cups (16 ounces) warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) unsalted room temperature butter

Tools Needed:

  • Pain di mie Pan – basically a square pan with a lid
  • Bowl for mixing and rising
  • Plastic wrap or dish towel to cover dough
  • Measuring cups and spoons

1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the water (slowly) and butter, stirring until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Add more water or flour if needed.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead it for 5 to 8 minutes, or until it’s smooth and supple. Form it into a ball and lightly spray it with oil. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow the dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk – about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the warmth of the dough.
3. Prepare a 13×4 inch pain de mie pan by lightly greasing it with oil or butter. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape it into a log the length of the pan. Place it into the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it’s just below the lip of the pan – about 45 minutes or so depending on the warmth of your dough.
4. Remove the plastic, and carefully place the cover on the pan with the prepared top, let it rest while you preheat your oven to 350F. Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the lid, and return the bread to the oven to bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.
5. For extra loaves, wrap bread in plastic wrap, place in freezer bag and freeze for future use. It will be good to eat for months.

Since this bread has no preservatives, you will want to keep it in the refrigerator wrapped up to avoid it going stale.   You determine whether you want it to be totally organic or locally sourced not the manufacturer.  First and probably every time, bread is best made with someone else for a shared experience.  Learning with a neighbor also helps create more community.  Congrats on making your own bread! You are now one more step towards basic food self-reliance.

Leave a Reply