Bread heads: our easiest ever loaf

So far, so good. We made our very first loaf of bread in the new year, the year I’ve resolved to (begin to) learn the ins and outs of this bread-making stuff—and to rescue my kids from the misfortunes beset upon those indolent Little Red Hen characters by getting them to sidle up to the counter with me.

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We started easy enough, with a recipe from the pages of “Cooking with Kids” by Linda Collister. We like this book, because it treats the subject with intelligence—no vegetables in drag or cutesy recipe names here. Just solid, real food, simply prepared but without dumbed-down flavor. Think roasted veggies with thyme and pasta with lemon. Smoked salmon in endive “boats,” anyone?

Then there are the bread recipes. We gave our first go with the Grant Loaf, described as “The best recipe for your first-ever loaf.” It was created by accident by a woman named Doris Grant and involves zero kneading and only one rise—in the pan (Ms. Grant, whoever you are, I fully appreciate this screw-up).

Just as billed, it was easy. Almost too easy, because the dough rose like no other dough I’ve made before. And because the recipe calls for a large loaf pan, and I flouted the “suggestion” and used the regular-sized loaf pan in my repertoire, the dough flowed over the sides of the pan during its brief rising period. We picked up the overflow and flipped it on top of the risen loaf, then baked it, without really smoothing it out. Luckily I wasn’t going for pretty, just tasty. And tasty it was (please note the past tense—our thick slices drizzled with honey are gone, long gone).

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The Grant Loaf (adapted from Cooking with Kids by Linda Collister)

5 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. salt

1 packet or 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon honey

2 ½ cups tepid water

Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well with your hand. Mix in yeast.

Use your hand to make a hollow in the center of the flour. Add the honey and water to the hollow.

Mix the flour into the liquid with your hand, then mix well for one minute, moving the dough from the sides of the bowl into the center. Mix one more minute until the dough feels very slippery and elastic and comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

Lift the dough into a large loaf pan (I highly recommend this) and smooth the surface with a plastic spatula. Cover loosely  with a clean, damp dish towel. Leave in a warm spot for 30 to 40 minutes or until the dough rises to within ½ inch of the top of the pan.

While dough rises, heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake loaf for 35 to 40 minutes.

To test doneness, remove the pan from the oven and remove the loaf from the pan. Tap the loaf underneath. A hollow sound indicates the loaf is done.

Transfer to a wire rack until cold (or just slice into the thing because you can’t stand to wait, like we did).

Best eaten within four days or freeze for up to one month.


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