I remember the first time I made bread. I was so pleased with my success. I was bound and determined to one day be able to whip up a big batch of bread–from scratch– just like my mom did (and still does). So I practiced and practiced until I got it right. And before long, at family functions, people would say, “Jane you made delicious bread”. And my mom would reply, “actually Myra made it”. I was so delighted to know I could now carry on her bread-making tradition.
I was hopeful too that I would pass her bread-making tradition onto my family and only serve home-made bread to my kids. That was ambitious thinking! Having kids and making bread just didn’t seem to mix–at least for the last three years. (How did my mom do it all?) But lately, I’ve gotten excited about it again. My youngest son is old enough now that he can play nicely with his older brother. So they entertain each other for hours these days and I have had more time to get out the bread bowl and loaf pans once again. I can’t explain how much I enjoy making it. And I get an extra kick out of watching my kids and husband devour it.
I realize bread-making isn’t for everyone. It takes practice to get the right elastic-consistency. But if your up for a relaxing weekend at home and want to get your hands dirty–or your kid’s hands dirty–I highly recommend giving this recipe a go. I added some squash because I love sneaking veggies into just about any recipe since my kids aren’t the greatest at indulging on veggies.
Whole Wheat Squash Bread:
2 cups butternut squash, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 cups water
12 dates, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp salt
3 cups white flour
10 cups whole wheat flour
4 Tbsp olive oil
Directions: Peel the squash and cut it into 2-inch chunks. Put the squash, water and chopped dates into a large bowl. Cover bowl with a lid and bring it to a boil. Once to a boil, reduce the heat to minimum and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is very soft. Remove the bowl from heat. Mash squash and dates with a hand-masher. Add oil to mixture and let the mixture sit until Luke warm (approximately an hour).
Feel the liquid mixture after an hour and make sure it’s warm to the touch (**important so you don’t kill the yeast!). Add the yeast to the liquid mixture if warm to the touch. Let the yeast sit for 20 minutes or until you see it start to bubble. This is an extra step but worth it to ensure the yeast is active–ensuring your bread will rise beautifully!
Add salt to the mixture and stir. Then add flour to the liquid mixture by adding 2 cups at a time and stirring it in with a spoon. Once the mixture is too tough to stir with a spoon continue adding flour by kneading it into the dough by hand. Keep adding the flour until you no longer have a sticky consistency. The dough should feel elastic. Add approximately 2 Tbsp of oil on top of your dough and knead it into the dough. Add another 2 Tbsp of oil underneath the dough and spread the oil around the outside of the pot to make sure the dough doesn’t stick to it. Put the lid on the pot and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours.
Knead the dough once again. Butter 4 loaf pans or cookie sheets. Cut pieces of dough to make appropriate-sized loaves for the containers you have on hand. I used 4 X 12 inch loaf pans, cookie sheets, and 9X13 inch glass pans.
Let the dough rise once again for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Heat oven to 350 degrees F for loaves and bake for 40 minutes. (If you made buns, heat oven to 400 degrees F and bake them for 25 minutes.) Remove buns and loaves from pans onto cooling rack and brush the tops of them with butter (this helps the bread maintain it’s moisture). Let cool and enjoy!
Note: I doubled the recipe. I enjoy making an extra-large batch so that I have plenty to pack into my freezer. If you decide to double the recipe make sure you have a large enough pot to handle the large batch.
Let me know your thoughts if you try your hand at bread-making!