It’s been just over three years since I started blogging, and I still find myself googling “how to blog” or searching other’s fine websites for tutorials on “how to write a fantastic blog post,” which will inevitably be filled with amazing content, your searchability (is it a word?) will skyrocket, and your readership will grow exponentially. I read all these tips ad tricks and shrink back, overwhelmed. Inexhaustible self-promotion takes it out of me, and I don’t feel like myself. It makes me want to get back into kneading a loaf of wheat bread that smells like comfort, like a day spent with a friend in your home.
I want to actually slice you a thick piece of bread, toast it, and serve with butter and honey and afternoon tea. I want to share moments of life with you, the everyday beautiful life we live; the life that could be seen as mundane or insignificant, but we know better, because these moments are filled with reality and a truth of who we are. In these moments we don’t have to put on a show, or stage the best parts of our day , positioning our words and phrases as a mask or a painted smile, rather than the reality that is true and gritty. We know our lives aren’t legendary because we are creating and manufacturing moments, but because we are already immersed in those precious moments. I want to be vulnerable with you, and I want to be home enough for you to be vulnerable with me. I want to invite you into a safe space, because those are becoming fewer and fewer in this world. And in those safe spaces we can truly let our souls breathe deeply.
Can we simply be together? I know, these may not be the ideal conditions you imagine for front porch sitting, life sharing, listening to the porch swing creak as we soak in the preciousness of good company, but it is a different condition for the same conversation. It is listening to the rain patter, cracking windows open because we are searching and inviting wisps of a spring breeze, and gazing out at the incredible beauty of it all.
Unmanufactured setting, real talk.
Friend, would you like to dig into life next to me? I have a loaf that you can knead, and we can smile at the immeasurable goodness we have been given in this everyday life.
We start with a warm yeast mixture, and add a bit of honey and milk.
There are only so many pictures you can take of a bread process, because most of the time, it is a consistent, reliable process that everyone at some point in their lives becomes familiar with. You know with certainty that after you mix your few, humble ingredients, it will come together with a little help from a dough hook and your fists, then it will rise. It will be poured out onto a floured surface (see above), divided and shaped, then left in loaf pans for a second rise.
I was organizing my photos the other day, and came across a few of my favorite engagement photos. They remind me of warm sunshine on my skin, vacations, dating life, being almost engaged (engagement photos before being engaged, that is part of
our truly unique, amazing story that I will tell you all one day), and being completely at home and safe with the one you love.
Enjoy the simplicity of this bread with someone you can belly laugh with and shed real tears with.
Life; it’s beautiful and legendary all on its own.
Whole Wheat Bread
makes 2 9×5 loaves
1 cup (8 oz) warm (not hot) water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup (8 oz) milk – whole, 2%, or skim
1/4 cup (3 oz) honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2-3/4 cups (13 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
3 1/2 cups (13 3/4 oz) whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
Pour the water into the bowl of a standing mixer and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let this stand for a few minutes until the yeast has dissolved. Stir in the milk, honey*, and oil.
*Remember my oil & honey trick? It works so nicely here! Simply measure out your 2 Tbsp oil, pour into the 1/4 cup measuring cup, then dump into the bowl with the yeast mixture. Then measure your honey into the 1/4 cup. The oil that was just there will help the honey release from the cup, so you don’t have to keep scraping every last bit of it out. Less work for you-huzzah!
Add one cup of each flour (totally 2 cups) and the salt, and stir to combine the ingredients. Add the rest of the whole wheat flours and a cup of the all purpose. Stir to form a shaggy dough. Add a bit more all-purpose flour as necessary. Don’t add all the flour at once! This may result in an extremely dense loaf. Add by the Tbsp (or let’s be real, by the handful) until the dough is pulling from the edges of the bowl, or until it is no longer all sticking to your hands while kneading.
Using the dough hook attachment on a standing mixer, knead the dough for 3-4 minutes, then finish by kneading the dough by hand against the counter for 6-8 more minutes If the dough is bubble-gum sticky against the sides of the bowl or the counter, add extra flour a tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticky. The dough is kneaded when it is smooth, feels slightly tacky, forms a ball without sagging, and springs back when poked.
Clean out the mixing bowl and film it with a little oil. Form the dough into a ball and turn it in the bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours. This dough won’t double quite as dramatically as other recipes, but the dough should look visibly puffed.
Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and turn the dough out on top. Divide the dough in two and shape each half into a loose ball. Let the balls rest for 10 minutes.
Grease two loaf pans or film them with non-stick cooking spray. Shape each ball of dough into a loaf and transfer to the loaf pans. It’s important that the surface of the loaves be stretched taut; this helps them rise and prevents an overly-dense interior. Let the loaves rise a second time until they start to dome over the edge of the pan, 30-40 minutes.
Heat the oven to 425°F about halfway through the second rise.
Place the loaves in the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 375°F; bake for 28-35 minutes. Finished loaves will be dark golden-brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove the loaves from the pans and let them cool completely before slicing.
Loaves will keep at room temperature for several days. Loaves can also be wrapped in foil and plastic, and frozen for up to three months.
Source: adapted from The Kitchn
Listening to: silence.