Farmhouse Country Loaf

I have already admitted to you how much I love to make bread.  I enjoy making the simplest of quick breads to brioche loaves and babkas that require a full day of preparation and baking.  I also enjoy making rustic, everyday loaves.

This farmhouse country loaf is a staple here at 1840 Farm.   It incorporates the fresh eggs and goat’s milk that we collect from the heritage breed hens and Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats each day.  I also use our freshly ground whole wheat flour and corn meal in the dough.  In my opinion, a loaf of homemade bread made with freshly collected eggs, goat’s milk, and home milled grains can proudly wear the name “farmhouse country loaf.”

A few months ago, I had the good fortune to be asked by our sponsor Kitchen Kneads to review a few of their products.  One of them was Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer.   The product promised to help produce a whole wheat loaf with a lighter texture and longer shelf life.  It was hard for me to believe that a mere Tablespoon of the dough enhancer would make much of a difference in a batch of bread dough big enough to produce two loaves.

Yet, I was curious, so I followed the instructions on the package for dough enhancer and made a batch of our farmhouse country loaf dough.  I didn’t make any other changes to the ingredients or technique in order to test the difference the dough enhancer would make in the finished loaf.

To say that I was impressed is an understatement.  The dough enhancer made an incredible difference in the texture of the finished loaf.  The exterior was firm with an interior that was smooth and even.  As far as the shelf life was concerned, one full week later, the loaf was still just as delicious as the day it came out of the oven.

We enjoy this bread for breakfast each morning lightly toasted, topped with a bit of butter and fresh homemade preserves.   The loaf has the wonderful texture that is the hallmark of a wholegrain bread without being too dense.  When toasted, the cornmeal in the loaf delivers a lovely toasty crunch that makes this our favorite way to start our mornings on the farm.

This country farmhouse loaf is my family’s favorite homemade bread recipe.  I hope that you will give it a try and make it yours.

Farmhouse Country Loaf
makes 2 loaves

I like to use freshly ground Hard Winter Wheat flour and home ground cornmeal ground using our WonderMill in this recipe.  If you don’t have access to freshly ground flour or cornmeal, you can substitute high quality whole wheat flour and  cornmeal.  If you don’t have Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer, you can omit it from the recipe.  The resulting loaf will still be delicious, but the texture will be slightly more dense and the shelf life will be several days shorter.

2 cups (240 grams) All-purpose or bread flour
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) whole wheat flour
1 cup (120 grams) cornmeal
1 Tablespoon Grandma Eloise Dough Enhancer
4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup (2 ounces) milk
1 1/4 cup (10 ounces) warm water
1 large egg

If you are using a dough proofer, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients.  Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl or small saucepan, combine the butter, honey, milk, and water.  Heat the mixture until it is warm but not hot.  If you have an instant read thermometer, you can use it to determine the exact temperature.  An ideal temperature for the liquids is between 105° F–115° F.  Stir to combine, ensuring that the honey has been incorporated into the warm liquid.  Add the egg and stir until the liquid is thoroughly combined.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until a dough begins to form.  Remove the ball of shaggy dough from the bowl to a floured surface.  Knead the dough, adding more flour if necessary, until it passes the windowpane test, approximately ten minutes.

If you are unfamiliar with the windowpane test, the technique is quite simple but incredibly helpful when making a loaf of bread.  This windowpane test will help you to determine if your dough has been kneaded sufficiently to yield a wonderful finished loaf.  By using this technique, you will be certain that your homemade bread dough will produce a beautiful loaf of bread.

Conducting the windowpane test is simple.  After you have kneaded the dough to the point when you think that it is ready to be shaped into loaves, take a small ball of dough and stretch it between your fingers until it is thin and translucent (much like a window).  If the dough stretches without breaking, it has been kneaded long enough to develop the gluten and is ready to prepare for its rise.  If the dough breaks, continue kneading until it passes the test.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, divide the dough into two even balls.  Shape each ball into a loaf and place in a lightly oiled loaf pan.  Using a sharp knife, make several slits in the surface of the loaf.  Scoring the loaf will allow the dough to rise and bake evenly without breaking the beautiful top crust.  Set aside to rise in a proofing chamber or a warm, draft free location.  Allow the loaves to rise until they have reached a height of an inch above the top edge of the loaf pans.

As the dough nears the end of its rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, this is a great time to put it to use.  I like to use stones when baking bread in order to deliver even heat to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.  I find that my loaves bake more evenly when I have the stones in the oven during preheating and baking.

Once the loaf has risen sufficiently and the oven has reached temperature, transfer the loaves to the oven.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, turning at the halfway mark to ensure even browning.  When the loaves are fully baked, they will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove the fully baked loaves from their pans to a wire rack.  Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter if desired.  Allow them to cool completely before storing.

Don’t miss my post about the best way to store fresh bread to learn how you should be storing your fresh loaf of bread.

This recipe is part of The Bread Baker’s Series, a collaborative series of posts from Kitchen Kneads and 1840Farm.  It’s easy to make sure that you don’t miss a single post in The Bread Baker’s Series. Subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter or join The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Be sure to subscribe to Kitchen Kneads Email updates and follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

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