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I love making bread. I love how the simple combination of basic ingredients, plus a bit of labor and love, turns into a wholesome and deeply satisfying loaf. As often as I bake bread (usually once or twice a week), there’s always something miraculous about it.
Until recently, my bread making was reserved for Sundays and vacation days. But I just found a new technique – inspired by one on Smitten Kitchen – which makes homemade bread a possibility even for work days. The methods are relaxed. The rising times are SUPER flexible. And, as a bonus, it uses lots of whole grains (the original uses even more, but we found it a bit heavy).
½ teaspoon yeast
1½ cups warm water
2 cups white flour (plus a little for coating the bowl)
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
Measure the water into a large measuring cup, add the yeast, and let it rest. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours, wheat germ, salt and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the yeast mixture and oil and use the dough hook to mix, about 2 minutes, till well combined. The dough will be quite sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a clean towel and add a tablespoon or two of flour to the empty bowl. Put the flour back in and turn it a few times so the dough is evenly coated with flour. Let it rest while you go about your business, anywhere from 2-8 hours. (Like while you’re at work!)
When you’re ready to move on, punch the dough down and let it rest some more, anywhere from ½ hour to 3 hours.
Divide the dough in half. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray. (I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful baguette pan which I splurged on some years ago and am excited to finally put to good use!)
Roll each half into a long rope and put them on the baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to make a few angled slashes in the top of each loaf. Brush with water and – if you have time – let the loaves rest for another 15-30 minutes. (Feel free to skip this rising if you need to.)
Bake at 450° for 20 minutes, then turn the oven to 425 ° and bake for another 10-20 minutes until golden. If you’re not sure if the bread’s done, tap it. It should make a hollow sounding noise.
Let cool completely (this bread is better at room temperature than hot) and serve.