Thursday, November 10

Five years of bread-making wrapped into one loaf.

So much bread. So many good loaves and so many failed. None of them perfect for what I needed- a perfect sandwich bread for my picky husband who must have store-like bread for his grilled cheese sandwiches and toast... a trait with he has apparently passed onto my son. I like my bread crunchy and European, but the boys have simple tastes. Funny how it's much easier to make a yummy European loaf than this stuff. But it's not that hard, I promise. 
Well, here it is; a serendipitous bread that fell from the skies and only took two small batches to perfect. It's not exactly like store-bought (so much better if you ask me) but it does the trick, and not just in a pinch! 

This makes two loaves, and is the vegan version. You can use eggs and butter instead of flax and margarine, but I haven't tried that, so happy experimenting ;)

4 tbsp. ground flax seed
3/4 c. warm water
1/2 c. margarine
1 c. almond milk
1/2 c. water
2 tbsp. raw agave or maple syrup
4 c. all purpose or bread flour
2 c. wheat flour
3 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. sea salt

In a small bowl, mix the flax seed and 3/4 c. warm water with a fork, set aside.
In a sauce pan gently melt the margarine into the milk. You want it to stay slightly cool, so don't boil or cook too long. Add 1/2 c. water and agave/maple syrup.
In a mixer or food processor mix 2 c. of the flour with the liquids and the flax mixture. Blend until smooth, then slowly add in 1/2 c. flour at a time. You may need to transfer mixture to a bowl and use your hands to get all the flour kneaded in. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, using cold-pressed olive or canola oil to keep it from sticking, about 5-8 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and let rest in a covered bowl in a draft free spot until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.* Once doubled, punch dough down, cut in half and form loaves in two glass, slightly oiled bread pans. Cover and let rise another hour, or longer if needed (until it reaches the top of the pan).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake the loaves for 40-45 minutes, until dark brown on top. Remove from oven and cover with a cloth dish towel for 10-15 minutes, and then remove loaves from pans to cool completely.
Store in a clean bread bag or in a paper bag. You can freeze one loaf and defrost at room temperature when you're ready to eat :)

*The longer your rise time, the less kneading you'll need to do. 

(Also, I recommend eating it slathered in jam with this, or dipped in this on a cold winter day.)

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