07 November 2011
Dave's Killer (Homemade) Bread
I really don't like to buy bread. It's usually full of weird preservatives, and there's something gross about a loaf of bread staying "fresh" for weeks. I once had a completely insane roommate (her insanity has nothing to do with anything, but she was seriously nuts) who would buy loaves of Wonder bread and promptly forget about them. They would sit around on top of the refrigerator for months, until I eventually got irritated enough to throw them out. That stuff honestly looked as fresh at the two month mark as it did the day she bought it. Yeah, no thank you.
Sandwich bread in particular is a label-reading headache I prefer to avoid. I can only pick up and put down so many honey-laden loaves before I get frustrated and just give up. There are a handful of vegan options available in the grocery stores here, but I've only found one I thought was worth buying again (and again, and again): Dave's Killer Bread. It's made with organic, vegan ingredients, and is absolutely delicious. It's also $4 a loaf, which is frankly totally worth it, but expensive nonetheless. Upon searching for a copycat recipe, I found one provided by Dave himself! There is, in fact, an instructional video of Dave making this 100% whole wheat bread on Everyday Dish. I had to try it.
The recipe lacks the seeds and grains and fancy stuff I really love about the storebought loaves, but this simple loaf looked like a good starting point. I figured I'd try it plain the first time, and then experiment with add-ins later on.
I should mention that this dough tried to kill my 6-quart KitchenAid Professional stand mixer. The thing is a beast with a pretty hefty motor, but this dough was stiff enough and required so much kneading that the mixer just stopped after 13 minutes on level 2 (the recommended mixing speed when using the dough hook -- I wasn't trying to break it!). The mixer is smartly equipped with an auto shut-off feature to save the motor from overheating, but I had never actually seen it happen until I tried this bread. Well, now I know it works! I stressed out about it, but it turned on again just fine after cooling down for an hour or so. Lesson learned. The dough was fine, too. I kneaded it for a few more seconds by hand and called it good.
Despite its density, the dough rose nicely in the pans. I probably could have let it rise longer to get a fluffier texture (Dave makes this suggestion in the video), but I had to hurry and get the loaves baked before work. They rose for an hour and a half, which seemed like a long time, but it was pretty cold in my house at the time. Didn't get much oven spring.
The verdict? Well, I like it. It's a fairly dense bread (no surprise, given the stiffness of the dough), but it's soft and chewy. I don't think the flavor is particularly interesting, though. It's quite sweet (half a cup of sugar will do that), but the molasses flavor gets totally lost. It does make some pretty good toast, with an ideal ratio of crunchy-toasty to chewy if you cut thick enough slices. I've been eating it for breakfast with peanut butter. I didn't get a crumb shot until half of the first loaf was already gone, so I guess that means I didn't hate it!
I guess I expected more from this bread because I'm such a big fan of the the storebought stuff. I don't know if I'd call it a diappointment, but it didn't wow me. I think I'll try it again and add some seeds to make it more, well, seedy. I need a recipe to stop me from wanting to buy my favorite Good Seed bread. As written, this recipe is not it, but it has potential. Thanks anyway, Dave! I know you really just want me to keep forking over $4 every time I go grocery shopping. It's okay. I still think you're great.