Sponge method, kid-friendly sandwich bread baked in the wood fired cookstove, with a lot of help from our littlest munchkin. Enjoy!
Esther’s Every Day Yeast Bread
2 and 1/2 tsp. or one packet active dry yeast
1 Tbsp + 3 Tbsp real maple syrup or honey
1 cup warm water (must be less than 130 degrees!!) + 2 cups water
1/4 c. melted butter
2 tsp. salt
4 cups + 3 cups flour (3 c. whole wheat, 3 and 1/2 c. all purpose, 1/2 c. vital wheat gluten, or whatever flours you prefer) plus flour for kneading
Proof the yeast:
Combine yeast and 1 Tbsp sweetener (syrup or honey) in a small bowl. Pour warm water over, stir once, let sit 5 to 10 minutes or until bubbles cover the surface.
Make the sponge:
Combine melted butter, salt, two cups water, 3 Tbsp sweetener and proofed yeast mixture in mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of flour, heaviest flours first. Stir vigorously in one direction about 100 strokes. Sprinkle remaining 3 cups flour on top. Cover and set in warm place 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.
Knead the dough:
Stir in remaining flour, turn out onto floured surface, knead for 10-15 minutes and set in greased bowl, warm and covered, to rise 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
Make the loaves:
Punch down dough, shape into round and cut into two equal parts. With each part, roll out into rectangular flat shape and roll up like a jelly roll. Press air out of the ends and twist them under, pinch seams, pat into loaf shape. Set in greased loaf pans, warm and covered, 40 minutes or until risen higher than the edge of the pans.
Bake at 350 (or thereabouts) for 40 minutes. Pop out of loaf pans immediately and cool as much as you can bear to wait before slicing.