I get annoyed when I have to stand in line at the grocery store or I have to wait to be called in to see the doctor. I get irritated at drivers who drive too slowly in the fast lane while refusing to allow other driver's to pass. I don't even like waiting for spring to arrive so that I can plant flowers in my yard. The fact is that I don't have a lot of patience in my life. I'm not saying that my impatience is a good trait, I'm simply stating the fact that it exists in my life.
The truth is that I would love to take things more slowly and I often try to make a conscious effort to slow myself down during the day. There are so many things that I either miss or don't take the time to truly appreciate and enjoy because they're just fleeting moments in my day. Dinner time with my family for example, can come and go without me even engaging in the event. Some nights it takes so much effort to get dinner on the table that by the time we sit down to eat, I'm either exhausted or I'm focused on the rest of my things that I need to accomplish before the evening is over. I need constant reminders to stay "in the moment".
Even though I don't like to wait on - well - anything, the fact of the matter is that some things are just worth the wait. My culinary training has taught me to exercise more patience because an impatient chef is never going to have good results. Of course, I learned that lesson the hard way - by ruining a lot of meals. I baked a batch of Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread this week from the America's test Kitchen Cookbook and it was definitely a test of my baking patience. It took about 30 hours to make two loaves of bread.
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
2 cups flour
1 cup water, warm
1/2 teaspoon yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup honey
4 teaspoons salt
6 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons oil
Combine flour, water and yeast in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight. (8-24 hours)
Combine flour, wheat germ and milk. Stir with a wooden spoon. Turn out only counter and knead 2-3 minutes. Return to bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. (8-24 hours)
Tear soaker apart into 1 inch pieces and transfer to a standing mixer.
Add biga, honey, yeast, salt, butter and oil. Mix on low speed with dough hook for 2 minutes. Increase speed and knead dough 10 minutes. Turn out onto counter and knead by hand for 2 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
Press down center of dough. Fold partially risen dough over itself by lifting and folding 1 edge toward the middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees and repeat 7 times. (8 folds total) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 45 minutes.
Grease 2 loaf pans. Divide dough in half and pat each half into a 8x17 inch rectangle.
Roll dough starting with a short side, into a cylinder. Place loaf, seam side down into loaf pan. Cover loaves with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour.
Heat baking stone in 400 degree oven. Fill an empty loaf pan with boiling water and place in the bottom of the oven. Make 1 slash lengthwise down the center of each loaf. Place loaves on top of baking stone and reduce temperature to 350. Bake until crust is dark brown. (40-50 minutes) Cool bread in pans for 5 minutes then remove from pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
This bread was really delicious. It really did make great sandwich bread but I have to admit that after waiting for the bread to rise - 3 times - I was pretty disappointed to see it deflate. I don't really know what went wrong. Once I made the slit in the top, the loaf sank in the middle and never recovered. The awkward appearance didn't seem to affect the baking time or the taste but I had envisioned perfectly rounded loaves.
The next time I feel like my life is spinning out of control and I need to step back and slow things down a bit, I'll get this recipe out again. (Trust me - it won't be long before that happens.) This bread really is a good lesson in patience.