I first started making bread not long after Ed and I married. I was a vegetarian at the time and we received Laurel’s Kitchen as a wedding gift from Aunt Charlotte. The recipe for 100% whole wheat bread continues to be a staple of mine. When Annie was still living at home, I designated Sundays as soup and homemade bread night. I have fond memories of Ed, Annie, and I lingering at the table on those evenings, the room softened by candle light, our bellies full from a delicious batch of lentil soup and warm, healthy bread.
Aunt Charlotte’s five grain bread recipe can be made by hand or with a bread maker. As much as I love the process of kneading bread, I am practical enough to realize there isn’t always time. Fortunately almost any recipe can be adapted to a bread machine. Simply start with the required amount of warm water, add the rest of the wet ingredients, followed by the dry. Make a hollow in the center and add the yeast. If you want to shape the dough yourself, set the machine to the dough cycle, remove when finished, mold the dough, cover with a clean dish towel, and put it in a warm place for the second rising. After the second rising, customize your bread before baking. Try sprinkling the dough with herbed sea salt, slathering it with an egg wash, dividing it into several baguettes, or rolling it into a pizza. If you use the dough cycle for Aunt Charlotte’s recipe, brush the surface with melted butter then sprinkle steel cut oats over the top before popping it into the oven.
For all three recipes, I highly recommend using organic ingredients. Most grocery stores and farmers’ markets carry organic milk, butter, flour, eggs, and produce. Not only is it healthier to eat organic ingredients because of the absence of pesticides and hormones, it also (in most cases) involves a more humane treatment of the animals. Additionally, buying organic helps to sustain a demand for these products and keeps organic farmers busy and employed.