Celebrations and blessings

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It was a weekend of celebrations.

My oldest daughter’s high school commencement was on Friday night. It’s probably the latest commencement of any school in the city, but it gave her and her friends the chance to see each other and share stories from university.  And if I may be permitted to boast a little, she won a General Proficiency award (third-highest average in her graduating class of 260), as well as an award for School Leadership and Citizenship, and highest marks in her English, Writer’s Craft, Philosophy and Chemistry courses.  I was so happy for her; she worked very hard in high school and it was wonderful to see that effort pay off.

We also celebrated my birthday on Saturday, as neither she nor my mother will be here on my actual birthday.  I thought about how lucky I was to be surrounded by my loved ones as I prepare to turn a year older.  I truly couldn’t be more blessed.

Today in church, we marked All Saints’ Sunday by remembering loved ones who have died.  I couldn’t help but think how proud my father, Paul Baker, and Andrew’s parents, Gwyneth and Roy Pollock, would have been – not only of her academic achievements, but of what kind and caring girls both of our daughters are.


There isn’t really a link between that story and this week’s recipe, other than to say that my daughter has asked for a loaf of this whole wheat bread to take back to university the next time she’s home.  I’ll be happy to do that, especially if it brings her home again soon!  This bread was surprisingly easy and delicious, and I’ll be happy to bake two loaves next time, one for her and one for us.  The recipe says to wait until the loaf is completely cool before slicing, but try to enjoy at least one slice while it’s warm – it’s absolutely amazing.  Make this loaf of bread for your family, and you too may be reminded of your blessings.


All-Purpose Whole Wheat Bread
(from Kneadlessly Simple, by Nancy Baggett)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (first amount)
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
Generous 1 3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp instant, fast-rising or bread machine yeast
3 Tbsp canola oil or corn oil (plus extra for coating dough top and baking pan)
2 cups plus 1 Tbsp ice water, plus more if needed
1 Tbsp whole wheat flour (second amount)

First rise: In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the white flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk the oil into the water.  Then vigorously stir the mixture into the bowl with the flour, scraping down the sides and mixing until thoroughly blended.  If too dry to mix together, add just enough additional water to facilitate mixing but don’t over-moisten, as the dough should be stiff.  If necessary, stir in enough additional flour to stiffen it.  Brush or spray the top with oil.  Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  If desired, for best flavour or for convenience, refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours.  Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours; if convenient, vigorously stir once during the rise.

Second rise:  Vigorously stir the dough.  If it is not stiff, stir in enough additional white flour to yield a hard-to-stir dough.  Using an oiled rubber spatula, gently lift and fold the dough in towards the centre all the way around.  (This organizes the gluten for shaping the dough into a loaf.)  Invert it into a very well-greased 9” x 5” loaf pan.  Using an oiled rubber spatula or fingertips, smooth out the top and press the dough out into the pan.  Brush or pray the dough top with oil.  Evenly sprinkle the top with 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour.  Using a well-oiled serrated knife or kitchen shears, make 3 to 4 evenly spaced diagonal ½-inch-deep slashes down the loaf.  Cover the pan with nonstick spray-coated plastic wrap.

Let rise:  For a 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature.  (Alternately, for a 1 to 1 1/2 hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling hot water.)  When the dough nears the plastic, remove it and continue the rise until the dough extends 1/8 inch above the pan rim or doubles from its deflated size.

Baking: 15 minutes before baking time, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  When oven is heated, bake loaf for 50 to 60 minutes; as necessary cover with foil to prevent over-browning.  Bake for 10 to 20 minutes more, until a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few particles on the end.  Then bake for 5 minutes longer to make sure the centre is done.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Turn the loaf onto a rack and cool thoroughly.

Serving and storing: Serve warm, cool or toasted; the bread slices best when cool.  Cool thoroughly before storing in plastic or foil.  Keeps at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.  May be frozen, airtight for up to 2 months.


29 comments:

Kitchen Riffs said...

Happy early birthday and congrats to your daughter! And this recipe looks terrific. Mrs K R has been doing quite a bit of bread baking lately, and her white bread recipe uses a similar technique and procedure. I'm sending her the link to this because I know she'll be interested - whole wheat bread is next on the list. Really good stuff - thanks.

Beth said...

Thanks, John! I loved this recipe and, although Mrs KR is a more accomplished baker than I am, I think she'll love it too. There are a few more bread recipes on my list, and hopefully I'll get to some of them this fall!

Julie said...

Congratulations! Sounds like she accomplished a lot and I know how proud you must be!

Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Guru Uru said...

Congrats to your daughter my friend, what an exciting event :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Valerie said...

A huge Congrats to your daughter (for the commencement and for the award)! It's easy to see where she gets her writing skills. :)

Happy 'early' Birthday, Beth!! If we were neighbors I'd bake you a cake and bring over a bottle of wine, we could share it along with a few slices of this bread. xo

Belinda said...

A hearty congratulations!!! And happy birthday!! What a weekend.

Bonnie said...

Congratulations to you daughter. I love to hear about children's accomplishments. I know you had a wonderful visit with your family celebrating both the commencement and your birthday. I think since you began celebrating early, you should just keep on celebrating through the actual date. I am a believer in hearty celebrations. The bread looks delicious! Happy Birthday!

yummychunklet said...

What a fantastic weekend! Congratulations!

Mary Anne MacCrone said...

Congratulations Beth on an upcoming birthday and many congrats to your daughter on her achievements. She was, no doubt, delighted to be recognized for her hard work and I can only imagine how proud you and your husband must have been!!!

Beth said...

Thanks to everyone for your birthday wishes. And Valerie, you've just given me a great reason to move to your neighbourhood!

Lizzy Do said...

An early happy birthday to you, Beth...what a blessing to celebrate with your family! And congrats to your daughter...and all her accolades. You must be so proud!

PS...love the bread.

Cindy said...

Happy Birthday my friend. I just celebrated my birthday. One of my daughters came to visit. We got a hotel in the city, Salt Lake City. We ate, shopped visited and enjoyed a fun conference. What a great weekend.
Sounds like your daughter is one amazing gal. Enjoy!
Have a great week.

Claire Davis said...

Congrats to her, that is amazing. I'm sure you are so proud. This recipe looks wonderful! I love whole wheat bread, I will have to try this one. Looks really good!

Jess said...

Thanks for the bread recipe~ I've been looking for a new one to try! And congratulations on raising a brilliant daughter and seeing her through high school commencement. They grow up so fast, don't they? My stepdaughter will graduate this January and be off to college next fall.

Food Gal said...

You must be soooo proud! Congrats to you and your lovely daughter. I think a fresh warm loaf of bread baked with heart and love is the perfect way to celebrate such an achievement.

grace said...

aw, it sounds like you have a terrific family, beth! thanks for sharing the picture and a nice, go-to bread recipe!

Katerina said...

Cngratulations Beth on your wonderful daughter. I know how proud you must have felt, seeing your child merit! I wish to you and to her many moments like this in her university life and in her carrier in the future! The bread looks absolutely wonderful!

Angie's Recipes said...

BIG CONGRATULATIONS, to both you and your daughter!
The bread looks professionally prepared. Thumbs up for you, Beth.

karleenbradford said...

Congratulations, and thanks for the recipe. I, too, am a bread baker and this recipe looks great. I will try it when my kids and grandkids come up this weekend.

Caryn Caldwell said...

Wow! Sounds like you have one smart, hard-working daughter! Way to go!

And that bread looks delicious. I'm always on the lookout for a good whole wheat bread recipe but haven't found one I love yet. I'll have to try this one.

Lorraine said...

Happy Birthday and congratulations to your very lovely daughter!

Barbara said...

Congrats to your daughter, Beth! You must be so proud.
And happy birthday to you!

Elaine said...

Happy Belated Birthday! And congratulations to your daughter on her achievements. Your bread looks perfect and I bet it was so delicious warm from the oven with a little bit of butter. Mmm...

Jeanette said...

Congratulations to you and your daughter - I love the smell of home baked bread - haven't made any in a while, but it would be perfect to warm up the house on a cold day.

Joanne said...

MAJOR congratulations to your daughter! I can definitely see why she requested this bread...nothing beats a loaf of the homemade stuff. :)

Rita said...

Congratulations to you lovely daughter Beth. I am slowly visiting my old friends on Blogland.I always enjoyed reading your post. This rustic bread is speaking to my soul. I am coming back.
Rita

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

What a wonderful weekend of celebrations! And congrats to your daughter on all of her accomplishments - very impressive! This perfect bread looks like a great way to celebrate. =)

Gloria said...

Congrats to your daughter Beth!! and your bread look amazing!!

artofnaturalliving.com said...

Congratulations on your daughters graduation. This spring my oldest will graduate from college and my middle from high school. I know well the thoughts about how much someone gone (in this case my father) would have enjoyed seeing the girls turn into wonderful young women.

Post a Comment