Thursday, October 29, 2009
Heart of Wheat Bread
Once in a while I come across a recipe that is so phenomenal that I know it will become part of my repertoire. This was the case with the Heart of Wheat Bread from the Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. In all its simplicity -after all its ingredients are only flour, water, honey, yeast, salt, and a healthful addition of wheat germ - it is perfection. I have made it countless times and every time I’ve made it I’ve doubled the recipe to make two loaves. It is an easy bread to put together; you mix up a sponge, cover it with a flour and yeast mixture and let it sit for four hours. After a 20 minute autolyse you add the salt and you mix the dough for 7 minutes. The dough is silky and lovely to work with. After you give it two rises you shape it and place into a loaf pan and give it its final rise. It is placed in a hot steamed oven where it gives the best oven spring ever. After about 30 minutes it is done, but I turn off the oven and leave it in for another 5 minutes for a crisper crust. I take it out of the oven and - this part is very satisfying for a bread baker - it crackles, it crackles like no other bread does. The bread is talking to me and it’s telling me that I’m in for a treat. How I wish I could cut into it as soon as it comes out of the oven, but I (not so)patiently wait for it to cool, and then I have a slice with butter and it never disappoints. Its crust is crisp and its crumb has just the right amount of chew. The next morning I look forward to breakfast because it makes the most wonderful toast. Rose writes that "..eating it inspires absolute and reverential silence!” That’s exactly how I feel.