I started trying to teach the kids to bake bread. Fortunately, it went a little better for us than the Swedish Chef. They learned how to create a "sponge", but then we ran short on time and I ended up finishing the dough and kneading it in the mixer real quick because we had to leave. I guess we will just take this one step at a time. We will be baking again on Friday and I plan to let them do some kneading. That's the fun part - watching it come alive in your hands!
Here is the basic recipe we have been using:
6 cups flour (I use 4 cups whole wheat and 2 cups bread flour) - divided
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
3 tsp. yeast
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
3 tsp. salt
Mix together 2 cups flour, water, and yeast. Let this sit about 10 minutes or until it gets bubbly and "spongey." (This is the sponge.)
Mix in remaining ingredients and knead until the dough becomes springy and elastic. It is hard to describe when the dough is right. You should be able to stretch the dough into a thin "windowpane" when you are done. I usually use the dough hook on my kitchenaid mixer and knead for about 10 minutes. It can also be done by hand, but it will take a bit longer.
Form dough into a ball and place in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap to rise. It needs to double in size which will take several hours.
Scrape risen dough from bowl onto a floured surface. Deflate it and press out air bubbles. Use a knife and divide dough in two. Form loaves and place into greased loaf pans. Cover and allow rise again.
After dough has nearly doubled in size bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. When the bread it done, the loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and it will be golden brown.
Let cool in pans fo 5-10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack and let cool fully before cutting if you can wait that long. We usually lose control from the smell and cut it while it is still hot. The slices aren't as pretty, but there is nothing like eating a slice of steamy, hot bread.