Of Bread, This I Know

This bread post has taken me weeks. Life has been stressful. Without going into much detail, that's what has kept me from writing the post that I really wanted. Until today. Finally. Good news and a bit of relief.

Now I can wax poetic about bread. God knows I love it. Or even better. I can let some others do it for me. I found some great quotes about bread on this website and have shared just a few.

“Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it's flat.”
Carmen McRae

“Good bread is the great need in poor homes, and oftentimes the best appreciated luxury in the homes of the very rich.”
A Book for A Cook, The Pillsbury Co.

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
James Beard

"[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread."
M. F. K. Fisher

"Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. Its not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life."
Lionel Poilâne

I made this recipe twice. Once, I used a bit of rice flour and honey. The second time, I used molasses instead of honey. These are the two best loaves of bread I've ever made. I'll let the recipe tell you the rest.

Whole-Wheat Walnut Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light's Whole-Wheat Walnut Bread

1 package dry yeast
1 3/4 cups very warm water
1/4 cup honey or molasses
2 T nonfat vanilla yogurt
2 T vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts (finely chopped)

In a medium bowl add warm water, molasses, oil, and yogurt. Whisk until combined. Add yeast and whisk until dissolved. Let sit for about five minutes or until it starts to bubble.

In a very large bowl, add both flours, salt, and baking powder. Chop walnuts finely in a food processor. Add walnuts to flour mixture and stir until combined. Pour yeast mixture over flour and stir until it becomes a dough. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead it until it becomes very smooth. About ten minutes.

Oil the inside of a large bowl. Put dough in oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. There are so many pretty ones. I have a very cold drafty apartment, so I've been using a new method for letting the dough rise. I turn on the oven for a couple of minutes. Just enough to warm it up. Then turn it off. Put covered bowl with dough into warm oven. Let dough rise for about an hour.

Remove bowl with dough from oven. With your hands, form the dough into a loaf. Place loaf in oiled loaf pan. Cover loaf pan with the same towel and put back in warm oven. Let rise for about half an hour. Remove towel. Bake bread at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. This bread rises high and browns beautifully. Let cool before slicing. Enjoy!

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S said…
I've always been too afraid to make my own bread from scratch, but it's something I really want to try. Would this be a good, not-too-intimidating recipe to try?
Lisa Johnson said…
s - Sometimes I just want to shout to everyone from the rooftops "Yes, you can make your own bread!"

There seems to be so much intimidation about bread making, but I really want to spread the word to people that it's not difficult. It isn't quick. There is no immediate gratification, because you have to wait for it to rise. But you can do other things at the same time. It is soothing and rewarding though. And I think a great skill to have. I baked a lot of bread when I was studying for the bar exam, because the kneading is so relaxing.

This would absolutely be a great recipe for you to try. I really hope you will. : )
Anonymous said…
Those quotes say it all! Thanks for the inspiration :)
FH said…
Love that "outback steak house" walnut bread they give you. Looks great Anali, love it with olive oil dip. I baked one too but don't know where the photos are! :D

Good luck with your exam, all the best from me!
Lisa Johnson said…
jen - I'm glad you enjoyed them! You're quite welcome! : )

asha - I don't think I've ever been to Outback Steak House. I guess being a non-beef eater and all. But if they give this kind of bread, then I'm impressed.

Oh and the Bar exam was eons ago. It's done and passed! : D
Oh wow, this looks fabulous! And I'm happy to hear that some stress has let up :) Happy 2009!
Lisa Johnson said…
michelle - Thank you and Happy New Year to you too! I'm so looking forward to the Inauguration on the 20th. I feel like that will be another New Year to celebrate!
Margie said…
Hi Anali
I love bread!
Every morning I start my day with some whole grain bread & a cuppa tea or coffee.
That picture of the bread with the jam on it (0h, I love jams, too) and the cup of coffee is just so soothing to me.
Glad you posted it for all to enjoy!

I just wish I could make better bread than I do...am not a good bread maker....I have tried.
Now, I just buy it but have found some wonderful breads that I love!

Great recipe....I am going to give it a try & hope for the best.
It must be sooooo yummy!

Have a nice weekend.

Suldog said…

Bread is my biggest downfall, when it comes to weight. I absolutely adore it. Nothing - NOTHING - is more delightful than a warm, crusty loaf, fragrant from the oven, with a pat of butter or jam. Or maybe a bit of cheese. Scrumptious.

Every Spring, in order to drop a few pounds and not kill myself on the ballfield during Summer, I give up bread (and all wheat products) for Lent. It is amazingly effective for shedding a fairly quick 12 or 15 pounds, but it is not easy. No, not at all. I love bread!
karmic said…
Neat post and loved the quotes and there is something about cooking and doing things with your own hands no?
Have a happy new year!
Nance said…
I could live on one of two things forever: good bread or potatoes, either one with lots of real butter. MMMMMMMM.
Lisa Johnson said…
margie - Thanks for sharing a bit of your breakfast ritual with me! We are definitely on the same page. I hope you enjoy the bread!

suldog - I think I remember feeling guilty for blogging about bread last year when you had just given it up for Lent. You have will power that I don't think I could ever summon unless my life depended on it. The bread baking will continue!

sanjay - Happy New Year to you too! You got it exactly. I feel very creative and grounded when I knead bread. It almost feels primal. Like I'm tapping into that action that has sustained humans for thousands of years.

nance - And both would be even better!
So So Simple said…
Hi Anali
Glad you got around to making the bread. I love working with dough - the smell and the feel of it at it's different stages.
And then we get to eat it. Wow what could be b etter than that. Love your spring header...looking ahead I see.
Lisa Johnson said…
so simple - I did enjoy that bread. And thanks for the compliments on my header! I go through such pains with it. I am SO looking forward to Spring. We are in the middle of a severe cold snap right now. It's supposed to dip below zero tonight. : (

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