It’s early evening on a Sunday night. You just spent six hours driving back from Los Angeles. Everyone is hungry, dirty laundry that escaped from your bags is now camped out on the living room floor, and your son just revealed that he forgot to do his math homework and needs help. But you also want to run a quick errand to a friend’s house to pick up a package. Your wife says, “If you really have to go, please pick up some bread while you are out. We’ll need it for sandwiches for lunch tomorrow.”
a) Begin stirring together flour, yeast, and water, knowing that thanks to a recipe from Baltimore baker Ned Atwater, with minimal investment of time and labor (no kneading required) you will be taking country wheat bread out of the oven before you go to bed?
b) Set the timer for the dough to rise, start making dinner, run out with your daughter to pick up the package, and let your wife, who is helping your son, continue making dinner?
c) Reluctantly accept the offer of a glass of wine from your friend, but graciously decline an invitation to join her family in dinner, even though you see your daughter’s eyeballs growing larger* as she stares at the bowl of pasta mocking her hunger, because you know your wife is laboring in your kitchen?
d) Gab with your friend’s new neighbors who have recently relocated from Ireland, despite being aware that your wife is probably starting to throw pots at the walls while she awaits your return, because it’s common knowledge that not even a saint can resist talking about Ireland?
e) Stare at the homemade apple pie that your friend has just taken out the oven, hoping she won’t offer you a slice (not even with vanilla ice cream) because you really don’t want an excuse to stay longer?
g) Know that you’ve over-exaggerated your fame as a raconteur, realize that your dough is now probably over-rising and needs to be stirred again, and tell your daughter that it’s time to head home?
h) Stop at the bakery?
*I confess. I added this for dramatic effect. My vegetarian daughter had no problem resisting the pasta because it contained meat.
Here’s what I did:
And here’s what you can do:
Stare at your hands
Stare at them again
Find a wooden spoon
Now stare at your hands holding a wooden spoon
Good, that was the hard part
Now, the fun part
Atwater’s County Wheat Bread (Recipe from the Baltimore Sun)
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3 Cups Whole-Wheat Flour
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Dry Yeast
3 Cups Room-Temperature Water
2 Tablespoons Honey
In a big bowl, stir dry ingredients together.
In a separate bowl, stir together water and honey. Add to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Dough will be sticky.
Cover the dough in the bowl and let it rest for an hour.
Wet your hands with water (or dust them with flour) and fold the dough seven times (I usually do it more). Re-cover and let it rest for another hour.
Uncover it and fold the dough again. Re-cover and let it rest for an hour.
Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a loaf of your choice.
Pre-heat oven to 450° and bake for about 40 minutes. The crust should be a rich, dark-brown color.
If you want to know how good this bread tasted, I will tell you that my daughter rated it RGD even though half of the dough consisted of whole-wheat flour. It was almost good enough to make my wife forget that she was mad at me. I guess I’ll have to remember that the next time I go out for a “quick” errand.