We women are always trying to force ourselves to reach the highest levels in about ten million categories.
We want to be patient, playful, cheerful moms, career women, (I ditched this one-but traded it for homeschooling) domestic goddesses who cook nutritious and simultaneously delicious meals, sew contest winning-Halloween costumes from old sheets and sweat pants, who are also "hot babes" having a voracious sexual appetite and achieving the coveted MILF-hood model.
I have a confession to make, although I joke about being perfect; not everything is as it should be-I have not reached all of these personal benchmarks.
I do not sew.
But I do know how to make wheat bread that does not taste and weigh like a brick.
Most of you know that I grew up Mormon. There is not much I have taken with me into adult life from the church. I feel like a caged-up bird every time I have to walk into an LDS building as I have to do occasionally for weddings, funerals and the like.
I was forever in trouble for showing too much skin, piercing my nose, working as a stripper . . .
Once I went into a church credit union to take out cash. I did, in fact, have evil intentions.
They somehow knew.
I must have carried an aura of iniquity. I was going to buy a car with my boyfriend. This was because we lived together and shared our money (gasp!). Yes, the same guy who is now my husband. I was nineteen years old. The bank made me call my mother before they would let me withdraw that much money from my own account. To this day I feel like I'm going to get in trouble whenever I walk into a bank.
Most of you know that Mormons are pretty much survivalists, especially back in the seventies and eighties. So like most Mormons; I grew up with a lot of wheat, piles and piles of wheat.
I know you don't want to admit your wheat bread taste like a brick. This goes back to my earlier point, we women want to look in control of everything in our lives. We want to appear (to ourselves too) that we feed our families only healthy foods. We get embarrassed if there are too many junk food items in the cart. We cut size tags out of clothes if they are a size up. We only open the curtains when the house is perfectly clean. And when we really want to show up other women at the office or neighborhood pot luck, we bring a whole grain banana bread to proclaim, to all "Look everyone, I am disciplined in all areas of life." But if you can't bring whole grain wheat bread because it is a brick; I am here to help you sustain your neurotic facade of supremacy.
I don't really have a recipe- I do what you do. I get online, look for a decent looking cooks.com thing and print it. But there are a few tricks you must use in order to convince people that you are flawless in all areas.
If you were to read the label, of course you do, all perfect people do, you'll see the second ingredient in almost all "whole wheat" bread is enriched wheat (white flour). That is because in all but the whole-est of the "whole wheat" breads, they use about half and half; wheat to white. You can actually throw in just a cup and a half of wheat flour; use white flour for the rest, replace the white sugar for dark brown sugar and a touch of molasses and your bread will taste like white but look like wheat.
This is all you really need to have all the other husbands and boyfriends and significant others turn to their women and say; "Wow-this is great, honey, get that recipe." Score one point for forcing another woman to endure this most renounced and feared humiliation.
This nod to your superiority may be enough to satiate your own personal mark of perfect woman status, but if you wish to further raise the bar by introducing your bread to the tinfoiled lasagna layout with a loud procolamation that the bread you are presenting is real whole wheat; you can use a few other tricks.
2. LemonsMost bread companies use a dough conditioner to soften the feel of the dough. You can get this at a specialty baker's shop, but since bread making is not a part-time job or a religion to you or anything, you probably don't want to devote that much time and energy into it. Instead, use lemon juice. If you don't have lemons but instead have a frig full of Corona, put one on ice for later and use one of the limes stuffed inside the twelve pack. The juice of one lemon/lime or 2 tablespoons out of one of those fake plastic things in the refrigerator that you once made the mistake of drinking out of as a kid (because you didn't learn your lesson from the baker's chocolate) is fine.
3. Knead the shit out of the dough.You have to fully develop the gluten in the dough. If you don't develop the gluten enough while kneading, the consistency will feel heavy and thick and so will the finished product. You can use one of those ridiculously expensive mixers or you can be a real woman about it and get your ass to work. You arms should feel like they are about to fall off.
4. Don't add too much flour.This mistake comes from not kneading enough. When the bread is sticky and stretchy, stop adding flour. Just keep kneading and it will magically start to feel like dough. Adding too much flour is what causes brick and sometimes mortar consistency.
5. White flour.Even if you don't fully cheat you should use about a cup of white flour. Add it at the end-it just makes it lighter.
So now you are a beautiful, perfect, overachieving babe, your house is always clean, your clothes are the perfect size, you only talk reasonably with a smile to your kids, you are always cheery and now your bread is perfect too.
If there is any other bar you feel you must reach-just let me know, I'm here to help.