For the bread recipe, just be patient. Or scroll down, if you just cannot wait. First, I have to complain a little. A friend around the corner, who had a baby just 3 weeks before I did, is signed up and training for a half-marathon in April. That’s two months away. She ran 4 miles last Saturday, and I ran about 1 1/2. I am trying so hard to take it slow, even when I feel like I can keep going. This morning, I’m sure I could have kept going after my allotted 9 minutes, but I know recovery takes time. All the same, I’m so dang jealous that she’s doing a 1/2 marathon.

I think I will try for the Provo River half marathon in the middle of August, but I’m not even sure I’ll still be in Utah. We’re moving, and I think the target date is August 14th. (And we’re going to a place with no mountains. I’m not positive I will survive.) The only problem with the Provo River is those first three miles down South Fork Canyon. They’re so steep that last time I did it, my knees were trashed. I don’t usually get hurt running downhill at a normal pace, but racing…

So, although I’m jealous, I just don’t think it would be wise for me to try to get up to 13 miles by April. Maybe a 5k in April or May, and a 10k in June or July. Someday I’ll be like my crazy dad and do 50 milers all summer.

OK, here’s the bread. I love the recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for whole wheat bread. It takes 2 days, with a poolish overnight, and a soaking of some coarse ground flour. I tell ya, that is good bread. The overnight ferment makes it taste like real bread, it doesn’t dry out very fast, it has a great chewy texture, and it’s the best 100% whole wheat bread I’ve ever had. So if you want that recipe, it’s copywrited. Go buy the book. It will be worth it, plus you’ll learn all sorts of crazy chemistry that maybe you didn’t want to know.

I make another bread often that is also pretty darn good. It’s not in a cookbook, so I’m pretty sure I can share it without worrying about the bread-recipe-hit-men. I like my knees, and, as explained above, I need them in good condition.

Mine is not 100% whole grain, so it’s a little softer, but not squishy like white sandwich bread. (Does anyone else call them sammiches? I just got Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and she has recipes for sammiches. I think that’s cute.) But I do like the texture and flavor of added wheat bran. Also, it has those little speckles. Here it is:

Speckled Brown Bread

3 cups warm water
1 1/4 t instant yeast, or 1 T active dry yeast, or 1 packet yeast
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten, optional

Mix this all together (if using instant yeast, just mix, if active dry, moisten yeast in water before adding flour and bran). Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for an hour or so, till pretty bubbly. You can put in the fridge for later, or continue now. If you refrigerate it, be sure to take it out about an hour before you plan to continue, so it won’t be cold.

3 T canola oil
3 T honey, or sugar if you’re vegan
1 T salt

mix well.

Add about 2 cups all-purpose flour, or bread flour if you didn’t add gluten, and mix. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Listen to some good music, and get the kids into the kitchen to dance with you. Give them a little piece of dough to knead, and I bet they’ll be occupied for half an hour, if they don’t eat it raw. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, use the dang mixer. I think it should only take about 6 minutes in a Kitchen-Aid type thing.

Put the dough in a big, greased bowl, cover with the same piece of plastic wrap you already used (come on, try to save the planet with me) and let rise for about 2 hours, until it doubles in size.

When it’s done rising, punch it down. I like to weigh the lump and divide it exactly in two. Today, my two loaves were 835 g and 836 g, using this recipe. Knead the dough for just a minute, to get the big bubbles out, and shape into loaves. Put into greased loaf pans, cover with that same piece of plastic wrap (don’t worry, I’ll let you throw it away after this), and let rise about an hour, till the sides are peeking above the tops of the pans.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the loaves in for 30 minutes, rotate them, and bake about 15 minutes more, until they’re golden brown, sound hollow when tapped, and register 185 degrees in the middle. Just kidding, I never get out the thermometer either.

Don’t, but Do Not cut the bread until it is cool. That means at least an hour of heavenly I-made-my-own-bread aromas wafting through your house and driving your upstairs neighbors crazy before you get out that knife. If you cut it while it’s still warm, you mash up the still-denaturing proteins and get a gooey middle. Or a hole. You don’t want a sandwich bread with a hole in the middle. If you ever do get the hole, for any reason not necessarily relating to the cutting of your bread, email me and I will tell you why it happened. I’ve gotten holy bread enough times to be able to diagnose a host of problems in the bread triage.

Now, you can give one loaf to your neighbor and have a friend for life, or you can save it for toast tomorrow, because your family will eat one entire loaf for dinner tonight. Or, after it’s completely cool, you can freeze it. I don’t bother freezing anymore, since my boys always want toast for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

I just started a seed culture for some sour rye, so check back in a couple of weeks and I’ll tell you how it went.