A tale of two loaves. The tale is simple and quick. Full of relaxation and getting errands done. Could this be a trick? A tall tale it’s not. So listen to me when I say—this is the easiest bread recipe(s) that may come your way.

This tale is a tale of two whole wheat breads. One 100% and the other mostly. And when I said simple and quick, I meant it. This is a no fuss bread. Make it. Let it rise. Shape it. And bake it. That, my friends, is what I call a miracle. These days I’m craving miracles. Days. Days itching to extend their 24-hour period. Days filled with too many good things. Days that welcome simple recipes. Like these. I loved them both—the density and deep flavor of the whole wheat bread compared to the lighter yet familiar flavor of the baguettes. If I had to pick a winner, I’d go baguettes for their quick rise time that doesn’t compromise flavor. I’ll surely be making them again.

If you’re afraid of working with yeast, stay with me. I think these recipes will give you a friendly introduction. If you’re still afraid, I made this little video for you awhile back. It’s nothing fancy. I’m no expert on yeast by any means. But I love working with it. For some reason I like it’s unpredictability and it’s lively (no pun intended) personality.

I forgot to mention, it’s Food Matters Project Monday, and I happen to be hosting this week. Just a heads up—I’ve written the recipes a bit different than I normally do. They are verbatim from the cookbook with my changes below. To see what other FMPers did, head on over here. And may the yeast be ever in your favor.

Real Whole Wheat Bread

Yield: one 9-inch loaf

Ingredients

3 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; the dough should be quite wet, almost like a batter (add more water if it seems dry). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for 12 hours (or up to 24). The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Rising time will be shorter at warmer temperatures, a bit longer if your kitchen is chilly.
  2. Use some of the oil to grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf plan. Scoop the dough into the loaf pan and use a rubber spatula to gently settle it in evenly. Brush or drizzle the top with the remaining oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, an hour or two depending on the warmth of your kitchen. (It wont reach the top of the pan, or will just barely.) When it’s almost ready, heat the oven to 350°.
  3. Bake the bread until deeply brown and hollow sounding when tapped, about 45 minutes. (An instant read thermometer should register 200° when inserted into the center of the loaf.) Immediately turn out the loaf from the pan onto a cooling rack and let it cool before slicing.

Notes

• To speed up the process, increase the yeast to 1 1/2 teaspoons and reduce the first rise to 2 hours and the second rise to 1 hour.

• I always proof (test) yeast before adding it into the flour. To do so, add yeast to 1/2 cup of warm water with a dash of sugar and let sit for 5 minutes. (Sugar helps the yeast to grow.) Once the yeast becomes foamy, add to the flour along with the rest of the water. This lets me know my yeast is alive before wasting flour (which I have done too many times).

• I added a tablespoon of honey to cut the bitterness of the wheat. I recommend adding 2 tablespoons in hindsight.

http://www.thefauxmartha.com/2012/04/23/a-tale-of-two-loaves/
Recipe from Mark Bittman.

Mostly Whole Wheat Baguettes

Yield: 2 large or 4 small baguettes

Ingredients

2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
oil for greasing pan, optional
1/4 c. sesame or poppy seeds, optional

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine the flours, salt, sugar, and yeast. (You can mix the dough by hand, but it will take longer; use a big bowl and a wooden spoon or sturdy rubber spatula.) With the machine running, pour about 1 1/2 cups water through the feed tube. Process until the dough forms a ball, adding one tablespoon more water at a time until it becomes smooth. You want a pretty wet but well-defined ball. The whole process should take 30 to 60 seconds. If the dough becomes too wet. add 1 tablespoon at a time and process briefly. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, at least one hour.
  2. Lightly flour your work surface and hands and knead the dough a few times. For small baguettes, divide the dough into 4 pieces, for larger ones, make 2. Roll each piece of dough into a log of any length that will fit into your oven. If you plan to bake the loaves on a sheet pan, lightly grease it with oil and transfer the loaves to the pan. Cover with a towel and let rise until the loaves are puffed to almost twice their original size, 30 minutes or so. Heat the oven (with a pizza stone if you have one) to 400° while you let the baguettes rise.
  3. When you’re ready to bake, slash the top of each loaf a few times with a razor blade or sharp knife. If you are topping the baguettes with seeds, brush each loaf with a little water and sprinkle them on. If you are using a pizza stone, gently transfer the loaves to the stone with a floured rimless baking sheet, lightly floured plank of wood, or flexible cutting board. Turn the heat down to 375° and bake until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature is at least 210° (it can be a little lower if you plan to reheat the bread again later) or the loaves sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes. Remove, spray with a bit of water if you would like a shinier crust, and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Notes

• I used a mixer with a dough hook to mix the dough.

• I always proof (test) yeast before adding it into the flour. To do so, add yeast to 1/2 cup of warm water with a dash of sugar and let sit for 5 minutes. (Sugar helps the yeast to grow.) Once the yeast becomes foamy, add to the flour along with the rest of the water. This lets me know my yeast is alive before wasting flour (which I have done too many times).

• I recommend slashing the dough after shaping the dough at the start of the second rise so that it can stretch a bit. Also, be sure to cut deep enough, about 1/2?. I was timid as you can tell.

http://www.thefauxmartha.com/2012/04/23/a-tale-of-two-loaves/
Recipe from Mark Bittman.

PS—Did you catch my post over at Mint last week?
PPS—Vote for Cookie and Kate in the Saveur Food Blog Awards!

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