I read this great book a few weeks ago. It has re-inspired me in a lot of ways in terms of the things we do to take care of our families, homes, and communities. Grant didn’t read the book, but he’s heard me blab about it plenty (I’ll try to review it here soon because I’m sure many of you would like it). Now whenever he catches me doing some a bit out of the norm like making my own pitas for Jas’ lunch or pulling weeds out in the yard for four+ hours instead of spraying the lawn with chemicals, he lovingly tells me that I’m a “radical homemaker.” It’s music to my ears!
So, back to the bread. I have a new-found obsession: making our own bread. I love knowing exactly what’s going in it (not much), how it magically transforms from a blob of dough into deliciousness, and how it makes the whole house smell like the Polish bakery in Elizabeth, New Jersey that donates their bread to NYCR.
I’ve been making pizza dough for a few years now – it’s super easy and difficult to screw up, but just within the last few months have I moved into making our own bread on a regular basis. And before you start thinking that I only have one munchkin, don’t work full-time and obviously have way too much time on my hands, let me tell you about this amazing little secret:
I kept hearing about this little book, so I checked it out at the library and fell in l-o-v-e! Basically, I (or lately, this has been Grant’s gig) whip up a batch of dough on Sunday, and it typically lasts us through the next weekend. Here’s the extent to every recipe:
- Measure the flour, water, yeast and whatever else you might be putting in it
- Then briefly mix it together (no kneading required!)
- Let it rise for about two hours
- Plop the dough in the fridge to use throughout the week
The dough gets tastier throughout the week because the yeast takes on more complex flavors. Each recipe is quite large (at least 6-7 cups of flour), so you just break off a bit each day, bake it, and enjoy – or, if that’s too much bread for you, you can freeze it in individual portions to pull out later.
After trying several recipes in the original book from the library, I bought the healthier version for myself and have enjoyed trying out many of the healthier, heartier versions in the newer version (it even has a whole section on gluten-free recipes for those of you avoiding gluten).
Back to the pizza business. We love pizza, and, although we were all pretty happy with my previously-mentioned pizza dough recipe, after I started making the artisan bread, I knew that my previous recipe was lacking. Our new favorite dough is the Whole Wheat Olive Oil dough from Healthy Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day – it’s delicious, healthy, and I think you should try it!
Whole Wheat Olive Oil Dough
7 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast (I use the active dry kind)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (this is a bit hard to find, but it’s worth it to make whole wheat breads have that spongey texture)
3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup olive oil
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large 4-5 quart bowl with a lid. Add the water and olive oil as you continue to mix the ingredients. I usually use a wooden spoon – you just want to make sure that all of the flour gets incorporated into the dough. You could use a stand mixer or food processor with the dough attachments, but I think it’s easier and less mess just to do it by hand in the one container.
Once you’ve mixed it all together, cover (not air tight) with your lid and then let it sit on the counter at room temperature for around two hours. You can use the dough after the initial rise, but I usually put it straight in the fridge because it is easier to work with cold.
For pizza, you just preheat the oven with a baking stone (or baking sheet) to 550 degrees, which usually takes about 20-30 minutes at our house. Cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough, dust your rolling surface heavily with flour, and roll out the dough to your desired thickness. The cookbook says to put the dough on a pizza peel, add your toppings, and then slide it easily onto the pizza stone in the oven. This never works for me – I think maybe we use way more toppings than normal people or something. Instead, I make sure to have all of my ingredients chopped and ready, take the stone out of the oven, throw some flour on it, put the flattened out dough directly on the stone, quickly add the toppings, and then throw in the oven for about twelve minutes.
We’ve made all sorts of pizzas and calzones (I mostly made calzones in the beginning until I figured out my toppings method). This makes a great “garbage dinner” too to use up those leftover veggies in the fridge.
(If you would prefer to make a regular white flour version, check out this post. We’ve also been addicted to pitas lately using this dough, and here are the basic directions if you want to make a regular loaf of bread using this recipe.)