I don’t bring home the bread, but I do make the bread (Whole Wheat Molasses Bread)

At this time last year I was working 50-60 hour weeks, working till 10:30 some nights and back in at 6:30 the following morning. My husband and I were at our wits ends trying to figure out how to take care of our child during times that our son was awake and not at day care. For three years, I never had time to meet up with friends, and weekends were too hectic for any rest. I had no time to enjoy the absolutely delightful child that I shared a house with. Nights would bring the dread and anxiety that this was the week that everything would come crashing down. Then week days would pass at break-neck speed. I had to-do lists miles long, and I never checked anything off them. I felt like I had two full time jobs and I was failing at both of them.

Four months ago, everything finally came crashing down in a horrible week of snow, illness and busy events at both my job and my husband’s. Two weeks later I quit my job, and in the span of one weekend, life screeched to a halt. I no longer had the stress of up coming events. There was no need to get up at 5:30 to ensure I was ready for the day before my son woke up. No rushing everyone out the door so that I wasn’t late. For the first week, I wandered around the house aimlessly not knowing what I was supposed to to. I joined the gym, cleaned the house and starting cooking for my family again. In particular, I started making all of our bread.

Since leaving my job, I have been continually amazed at the number of things I had never noticed before. From the massive patch of wild roses at the edge of my lawn to the exploding population of chipmunks living in the rock wall, I am discovering my home like never before. I had no idea I even liked rhododendrons. Of course there are so many things that I have missed that I will never get back. So many firsts with my son, moments with my husband and relationships with friends that will never be the same. But at the same time I realize how blessed I am. I have a chance to relish life in a way so few people do. I see the world through the eyes of a two year old, and through the eyes of someone who is grateful for every moment.

It’s not all roses and rhododendron though. Quitting has not made me any better at keeping house. My stress at getting the jobs done has been replaced by the stress of all the housework I still can’t seem to find time to do, and the constant stress that I am not a good-enough mother. As anyone who has ever done it before knows, taking care of a two year old takes a lot of creativity and even more patience. Everyday I do something and instantly realize it was the wrong parenting decision. For the life of me, I cannot master the time out (how do you make them stay put???? Damn you Super Nanny!). So for all the times I regret my decisions, I try to balance it with creative activities for us. Most of them revolve around finger paints and the kitchen (or finger paints and the kitchen on one unfortunate occasion). Now whenever I try to do anything in the kitchen, I hear the little feet come running down the hall and then his favorite words, “I help, I help!”  I try to let him help, but usually he just ends up trying to eat whatever is in my bowl instead of being particularly useful. Regardless, I usually have him help with the bread-making.

My sandwich bread is the basis of our bread-making routine. We make this loaf once or twice a week. It’s a versatile loaf — good for sandwiches, toast and even french toast. The recipes below are our favorites. Its easy to switch out the oil and sugar in the recipe to get a variety of different breads. Its wonderful with butter and plain sugar, but why miss an opportunity to use healthier options like iron loaded molasses and heart healthy olive oil. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Molasses Sandwich Bread
makes 1 loaf
I use a bread machine to make my bread dough. It is one of the time saving kitchen gadgets that I use which my son can help out with. If you make bread by hand, you could easily double this and get two loafs at a time. If you are using a bread machine, be sure to add the ingredients in the order suggested by your bread machine manufacturer.

1/2 – 2/3 cup warm water (depending on humidity)
1/2 cup milk (I use skim or 1%)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons Molasses
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Flax Seed Meal (optional)
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Instant Yeast

For a bread machine: Combine ingredients as directed by your bread machine. I add all the wet ingredients followed by the dry ingredients and then the yeast. Set your machine to the dough setting and start it. Once it has mixed thoroughly squeeze the dough and see if it needs more water. It should be moderately soft and slightly tacky, about like play-dough. If it is too firm, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Let the dough cycle finish.

Turn dough out onto the counter and form into a flat circle about 10 inches around. Roll into a loaf shape and place in a greased loaf pan. Let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes or until a medium dark brown and has a light hollow sound when tapped. Let cool slightly and remove from loaf pan. Cool completely before slicing.

For directions making without a bread machine, follow these from the King Arthur website (its what my recipe was loosely based on).

Step by Step in Pictures:

Add all the ingredients as directed by your bread machine. Set machine to dough setting and let ‘er rip!

Flatten bread into round about 10 inches in diameter, but don’t make pizza!

I roll my dough up because I believe it makes a nicer dome on top.

If you want your bread to have a pretty top, use a knife to slice three diagonal cuts into the dough before the second rise.


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