Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekends: playdates, cleaning and baking for the week

Weekends are good times to get things done whether or not you have a 9-5 job.  Or in the case of stay-at-home parents, a 6-10 job with 24 hr on-call.  Whether you drop off or host a playdate, the kids for the most part will entertain themselves, giving you time to clean, bake, do bookwork, etc.  I swear I get more cleaning done when my daughter has a playdate than when she is just playing with her little sister.  (I'm pretty sure it's because they are playing together and entertaining themselves instead of undoing what you've just accomplished five minutes after it is done.)  So over the course of the last two playdates this weekend, I got the dining room cleared out, cleaned off, swept and vacuumed, and 65% of the kitchen counters cleared off.  Plus a few loads of laundry and dishes.  And the kitchen floor mopped.  This is doing really well for me.  That floor sees a mop once in a blue moon.

Now for the sandwich bread for the week.  Between the sourdough in the freezer and the pancakes ready to be toasted, I really only need one loaf this week.  In the interest of getting many things done at once, throw it in the bread machine on the dough cycle while you clean clean clean.  Actually, I don't think I've used anything beside the dough cycle in the last eight years.  I prefer to do my own shaping and finishing even though I'm taking a shortcut.  And this bread sure smells good right now.  A sure sign it's almost ready to take out...

Yup, that's nice bread.  It helps to bake it in the proper sized pan.  Up until recently, all I had were 9 x 5" pans.  So the 8 x 4" recipes necessarily turn out a bit squat in those.  Still tasty, but not as tall and plump as a loaf should look.  Now the difficult part of waiting for it to cool before cutting.  I'll save out a few pieces and bag them up, the rest go in the freezer.  I finally got a decent bread knife for myself last fall.  Nothing ruins a nice fresh loaf of bread more than squishing it into gumminess with a lousy bread knife.  Maybe next I'll invest in an electric knife for cutting perfect slices before it's totally cool.

Ahhh, nothing better than fresh bread with dinner.  This is a great, versatile bread.  It's firm enough to makes great sandwiches, yet nice and light and tender.  It is also almost 2/3 whole wheat.  Doesn't taste like whole wheat though, I do love that white whole wheat flour!  Although this recipe doesn't use (or need) it, one trick to dealing with the bitter flavor that you can get with traditional whole wheat flour is to add a bit of orange juice.  Something in it seems to counteract the bitter flavor without actually adding an orange juice taste to the baked good.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

1 ¼ c lukewarm water
2 T canola oil
¼ c honey
2 c white whole wheat flour
1¼ c unbleached all purpose flour
¼ c bakers special dry milk (high heat treated dry milk - you may omit this if you do not wish to get a special ingredient. Instead, substitute 1 cup scalded milk for 1 cup of the water.)
1 T vital wheat gluten
1 ½ t salt

Make life easier by using the dough cycle on the bread machine if you have one.  Add ingredients in order listed and let her go.  Rise time will be about 1 to 1 ½ hours.  Deflate the dough and shape to fit in a greased 8 ½ x 4 ½" loaf pan.  Let rise until doubled, about an hour.  Bake in a preheated 375ºF oven for 35 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf reads 190ºF.  Remove the bread from the oven, remove it from the pan and cool on a rack.  For extra flavor and a soft crust, brush the top with butter when you take it out.

Makes 1 loaf

Adapted from King Arthur Flour


  1. This bread looks really good. And yes, I agree on the fact that you get more things done when your kids have a playdate. Same here. When I'm home "alone" with my 3 little devils, there is no chance I will be able to clean anything. But when they have friends over, it's so quiet here ;-). Can't believe then that there are at least 6 kids in the house!

  2. WOW, this looks good. any chance this will come out so nicely without the gluten addition?

  3. @ Neta - Yes, with the partial white flour, this loaf won't suffer noticeably without the added gluten. You could also change a quarter cup between the white and wheat for a little extra insurance. (1½c white, 1¾c wheat). Also you can use regular dry milk instead of the baker's (I'd use 1/3c), though I do love how the loaves turn out with scalded milk even better. It just takes that extra step of scalding. ☺ I hope you like it if you try it out!


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