August 14, 2013

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

26 seconds.

I have been given 26 seconds of new Sherlock footage.

The Internet has been given 26 seconds of new Sherlock footage.

And the fandom has exploded.

(FANDOM (n.)- the fan community of a thing)

You know, I've been a part of a lot of fandoms in my time. I started with Buffy/Angel. That was my gateway fandom (my gateway to geekdom, too). Then there was Lord of the Rings, various animes, Harry Potter, Stargate. I dabbled a bit in the Anne Rice/Vampire Chronicles fandom. I was big into the Mercedes Lackey/Heralds of Valdemar fandom in the early days of, before Tumblr or Pinterest existed, when it was a lot harder to be part of a fandom [HIPSTER GLASSES]. So I'm a little bit of a fandom expert. And let me tell you one thing: there has never been a fandom quite like the Sherlock fandom.

I couldn't say what it is that makes us unique. 3 episode seasons and an excessively long hiatus (a year and a half and counting...) are 2 of the culprits, for sure, but most other fandoms tend to go "dark" with no new content. But we watch. We rewatch. We voluntarily give ourselves Reichenfeels (n.- feels created by watching The Reichenbach Fall)(FEELS (n.)- the unwanted feelings inspired by fictional events. Example: I can't handle all my feels watching Bambi's mom die) in order to search for clues, anything we might have missed. We make note of the buttons on Mrs. Hudson's sleeve, of the earpiece in Watson's ear, of the tiniest of Sherlock's expressions during the epic showdown with Moriarty. We refer back to the canon (n.- the official, or original, storyline)-- the books-- to see if we can find some hint to what might happen next. We curse Moffat and Gatiss, and we study interviews with the actors to see if there's anything they might have let slip.
"And how many times have you watched the Series 3 promo?" "Oh, it's all a bit of a blur, Detective Inspector. I lost count." (30 geek points if you get that reference)

And then a 26 second promo is released. I watched it about 5 times in a row, not gonna lie. But I'm still not as bad as others who have scrutinized and analyzed every frame. Gif sets have been made. Theories have been adapted. New theories have been created. Watson's mustache has been named Harold, and Lestrade's hair has been mourned. The Sherlock fandom is one of the craziest and most obsessive that I've ever been a part of, and it's fantastic.
So with the new promo awakening some of my Reichenfeels (damn you Martin Freeman and your ability to break my heart into bitty pieces), I needed to do some carbo loading. I also needed some sandwich bread for another recipe, and since we don't really eat slice bread, it seemed a waste to go out and buy it when I had all the ingredients to make it already in my kitchen. It was fate.

I made a whole wheat bread recipe from Old Reliable, but I decided to make it honey wheat instead. The bread itself is perfect sandwich bread: sturdy, but soft, and the honey gives it a nice, subtle sweetness. There's a nice heartiness from the wheat flour, but it's balanced out by the all-purpose flour. The crust did get a little over-browned-- not burnt, but just a little too dark-- so I would suggest tenting it with foil the last 10 minutes or so. This recipe makes 2 loaves, so if you're not a big sandwich-bread-eater like me, you can freeze half the dough, then have fresh baked bread whenever the whim takes you. I double-wrapped it in plastic, then put it in a zip-top freezer bag, because I'm paranoid about freezer burn.
True story, I was making myself some chicken salad for lunch while the bread was cooling. It was on a rack right in front of my face, and I'm cracking some pepper over the chicken thinking, hmm, I wonder what we have that I can eat this on. And then I looked at the bread, and I thought, hmm, I wonder how I should style it for the pictures. And it took me about another 5 minutes to put those two things together, I'm not even kidding right now. I blame Sherlock.

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread
Yield: 2 loaves

4 cups whole wheat flour
3- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. salt
2 packages active dry yeast
2¼ cups milk
⅓ cup honey
⅓ cup unsalted butter or margarine

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the sugar, salt, yeast, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1 cup all-purpose flour. In a saucepan over low heat, heat the milk, honey, and butter until warm, approximately 110-120 degrees F (the butter doesn't have to melt completely). With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Increase the speed to medium and beat about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add another half cup of whole wheat flour, and half cup of all-purpose flour. Beat another 2 minutes on medium speed.

Fold in 1 and a half cups each of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. If the dough is too sticky, add the extra 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed (or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface) about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat completely. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.

Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured, and cut in half. Cover and let rest about 15 minutes. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle. Starting at the short side roll the dough up as tightly as possible and pinch the dough to seal. Seal the ends by pinching them down and folding them under. Place in a regular loaf pan that's been lightly greased and lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake about 25-35 minutes, until the tops are well-browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If the crust is browning too quickly, tent with foil after the first 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Note: If you only want to make one loaf, freeze half the dough. After letting it rest, wrap in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer bag. To use, defrost completely in the refrigerator, then shape and let rise as directed before baking.

Recipe adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook