Sunday, July 22, 2007

Half Wheat Bread

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pondering what bread to bake next, I looked in the cupboards with my bread-making equipment and noticed bread pans. Hmm, I said to myself, I haven't made a plain loaf of bread for many months. I also said to myself, I haven't used this whole wheat flour for a while. (In fact, when I looked at the flour, I saw that it's "best if used before" date was sometime last year. I know how Rose feels about old flour, but I decided to use it one more time before I threw it away).
I looked at a bunch of recipes, but nothing quite struck my fancy. The whole wheat breads all looked too dense and hearty, and I was in the mood for something lighter. I finally decided to use Rose's basic white bread recipe and just substitute half whole wheat flour; hence the half wheat. Or it could be half white, I guess. (No, not half wit).

This bread came out very well, especially for being rushed into shape. We had to leave at 5:00, so I wanted the bread to be ready by 3:00. I started mixing the sponge around 9:30, but when I read the recipe carefully, I realized that if I used all the maximum rising times, the bread would not come out of the oven until 6:00. So I used the minimum rising times, and shaved some more time off. It didn't seem to matter one bit. I probably wouldn't have needed to throw the elderly flour away after all.
But the real star of this bread was the butter. You may have seen the article in the NYTimes about making your own butter. I cut it out, but didn't really intend to try it. I mean, how Little House on the Prairie is making your own butter? If you start that, soon you'll be weaving your own yarn, or putting a henhouse in your garage. But the lure of home-churned butter is too great to resist.
Well, off course, it's not home-churned. It's home KitchenAided with the whisk attachment. I have always loved to whip cream. It was my job as a child whenever we had dessert with whipped cream, which was never often enough. But my mother always cautioned me not to beat it for too long "or it will turn into butter." So I grew up with this idea that one millisecond too long, and your nice whipped cream would turn into a big chunk of butter. If my mother were still alive, I'd tell her not to worry: there is a long, long period of time before the whipped cream becomes butter. But that's all there is to it. Whip it long enough (like ten minutes) and suddenly, immediately after attaining a curdish consistency, it starts sploshing liquid onto the plastic wrap that the directions have helpfully told you to cover the bowl with, it does what it's supposed to do. The thick stuff is butter. The milky stuff is--you'll never guess--buttermilk.
I like my butter unsalted, but Jim doesn't, so, like the good wife that I am, I sprinkled a little sea salt into most of the butter.

If I had had more time, I might have shaped the butter into something cute. As it was, we barely had time to cut into the still warm bread, slather it with incredibly fresh and delicious butter, and eat three pieces each.
Then we had to leave to go to a party. It's a hard life, but someone has to do it.


jini said...

wow! how lucky that you had just enough time slather that yummy butter on 6 pieces of bread so you and jim could eat them and BLAST out the door and arrive on time. :)
you are not a half are a true wit! with an outstanding sense of humor.

Melinda said...

Yes, you are getting very show-offy in making your own butter! You'll be making your own mustard and ketchup next, Laura Ingels!
I must admit Rose has put me off using my wholewheat flour by saying it goes rancid very quickly. But I really can't taste a rancid taste. She must have hyper sensitive taste buds. I don't store it in the freezer either.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say, BBC, sometimes I read your blog and find we are thinking about the same stuff (actually, I think it's just that we both read the Wed and Sun NYT). Where did you get the cream for the butter? I wanted to make it too, but the nearest Whole Foods (where I'm thinking I could get either organic heavy cream, or just heavy cream without stabilizers) is about an hour away and I haven't gotten the ambition up to hitch up the wagon yet.
Oh! Have you tried making mozzarella yet (and then ricotta with the whey)? Easy as pie. Easier than pie. Made some last weekend from some local raw milk (no cream though), yummy and quick. Here's a link if you want the specifics
My husband is threatening to get me a WWMID t-shirt
Once again, great blog
Chris in RI

kneadtobake said...

Homemade bread AND homemade butter, it just does not get any better than that.
I checked out Jim's blog, WOW! I wish I could make bread and look out on such beautiful gardens.

breadchick said...

WOW! That is all I can say (that and I can almost taste that butter on that bread). Now where is my Laure Ingells outfit...

breadbasketcase said...

Thanks! I actually can be somewhat half-witted at times, but I'm glad you haven't picked up on it.
I hate ketchup and would never make it. I think I must be one of only two or three Americans who doesn't like ketchup. And I've never made jam either. You should try making butter yourself--you can probably buy better cream than we can here in the states.

I just got regular whipping cream from the nearest grocery store. If I'd planned ahead, I would have gone to the co-op, and bought some excellent cream from a local organic farm. I'm very excited by the make-your-own mozzarella idea! Far better than making ketchup.

Jim started the flower blog at my request, so I'd know what flowers bloomed at what time. Now that I have the record, I've found something else to get obsessive about. I want to have at least one new flower in bloom every day of the season, from mid-April to mid-September. I'm fine in the spring, but I need lots more late summer-early fall things.

You must find your Laura Ingalls Wilder outfit and then make butter yourself! You'll love it.

jini said...

am i the only one to be in the dark about this flower blog by jim? would he be willing to weed my garden???

breadbasketcase said...

You're not the only one who doesn't know about the flower blog--in fact, I'm surprised anyone knows about it because its whole purpose is just to record what flowers I have in my garden. It's at
And no, you can't have him as a weeder. He is already spoken for. And he is a very thorough weeder. Whereas I pull up some weeds, then see something that needs deadheading, then see something else I don't like the looks of, Jim stays with a given spot until it is 100% weed-free. I irritate him because I am so easily distracted.

Chubbypanda said...

I actually want to put up a hen house once I have a large enough yard. Hooray! Organic eggies for me!

breadbasketcase said...

Have you ever been around chickens? We had some once when I was a kid. My dad had the idea that we'd have fresh eggs and fresh roast chicken. All I remember is that the chickens were very mean and ran after me, trying to peck me. I also remember that my dad was never able to bring himself to kill the chickens. Eventually we gave them away. I hope that you get some good-tempered hens!