Monday, March 16, 2009


I've had a hard time making good bread lately (read: I have made a number of batches of poorly risen barely edible bread ). What mom with three little ones has the time it takes to knead bread well? Hands covered in dough for an hour, a whole hour of uninterrupted time... It just doesn't happen, at least not in this house. So my bread has not been well kneaded, or the kneading process has taken me 2 hours because of all the interruptions, or the bread doesn't get loafed when it is ready because I am busy with the needs of my little ones. Whatever the reason, it seems that making bread and mothering were having a hard time fitting together in this house. But I love making bread! I love the physical activity of kneading it, I love the smell of it rising and baking, I love the fresh taste of it hot out of the oven, I love knowing all the ingredients that are in my bread and where they come from, and I love those ingredients being few in number. It all feels healthy and full of life to me. It is what I want my girls to be able to participate in as a part of their week. It is something I want them to know how to do and love doing. It is what I want them to be able to eat. But mothering requires the things I do to be short in duration, interruptable, not time sensitive, and to have hands ready to meet the needs of my daughters.

And then I remembered the stretch and fold method of making bread! It is perfect (for me)! You can take almost any bread recipe that requires kneading and by utilizing the stretch and fold method you take out the need to knead. It is a method of making bread where you mix the ingredients, let the dough sit for 45 min., stretch it out into a large, flat rectangle and then fold it into thirds in both directions, let it sit 45 more minutes and repeat the stretch and fold 2 more times before forming it into a loaf and putting it into the pans for the final rise. Viola! Bread that has a texture even better than what most people get by kneading it. For a more in depth lesson including videos check out under "tips and techniques". For a stay-at-home mom it's perfect! It is a longer process, but time at home is what I do have. It is interruptable, not time sensitive, and only requires 5 min. of me every now and then. I wish you could be here right now to smell what our house smells like with fresh bread just coming out of the oven. I would cut you off a huge hunk of crusty warm sourdough bread and you could enjoy it with me.

I have had some requests for my bread recipe so here it is:

  • 2 c. starter
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 T melted butter or oil
  • 4 T honey or sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. water or milk (it rises better if you warm the milk a bit)
  • 4 1/2 c. flour (whole wheat or white)

That is my basic recipe. It makes two loaves. Usually I use oil, water, honey and whole wheat flour, but it is yummier the other way around. The stretch and fold method works better with at least some white flour, but 100% whole wheat works as well, you just have to do a few more stretches and folds (not just the three). I mix all the ingredients, knead it until it passes the windowpane test (a golf ball size piece can be stretched out into a square 'windowpane' that you can see light through without it tearing or getting holes in it). Cover and let it rise until doubled, punch it down, form it into loaves and place in greased bread pans or baking stone, let rise again until doubled, bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or so, remove from pans and let bake another 5 minutes until crust is well browned. For the stretch and fold-no knead method check out the above website. If you're doing 100% whole wheat it usually takes me 5 stretches and folds before it will pass the windowpane test. This is our 'everyday' bread. It uses a sourdough starter to rise the bread as opposed to dried yeast, but does not have a sour flavor like a San Francisco sourdough unless you let it rise too long. (We have a recipe for San Francisco sourdough as well, or see the above website.)


bethany said...

Yes, I do wish that I was there to eat that with you!

April said...

Yum! This looks soo good! My aunt used to live in Boulder when her three kids were little. She is a gourmet baker and used to bake fresh bread as remind me of her. :)

Andrew said...

Oh yum! I wish I was there to have a slice with you, warm out of the oven. It was nice to talk to you for a minute this morning. Miss Caroline is 35" tall and 25 1/2 lbs., and all healthy. Well, her iron was 10.9, so still below 11, so we still need to watch that, but otherwise she's all good. You are my "I have five minutes before it's time to leave to yoga, Caroline's sleeping, and Jackson's playing outside" time to myself. I like to have five extra minutes to catch up on what you've been thinking lately. I'm so glad you found a method of bread making that works for your schedule. I love you!

akamilby said...

Ummm, that previous comment was supposed to be from me (Holly). Apparently Andrew was signed in. Just FYI. --holly

katie said...

I figured it out:)

Lindy said...

I started reading your blog because you mentioned you loved making bread. Me too! I am anxious to try this new method. I only recently started making bread so everything is new to me, but I love putting my son down for a nap and starting a new loaf!

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

I've never tried this method - my solution to the "not enough time to knead" problem was to get a bread machine. :) I do enjoy making bread the REAL way, though, and used to make the most amazing sourdough back when I only had one child!

Will you share your sourdough recipe? I'm curious!