When my daughter was eighteen months old, we started seeing a husband/wife chiropractor and naturopath team. She was having some problems with chronic ear infections and had shown signs of potential asthma. We decided upon this route–with our pediatrician’s blessings–instead of lots of antibiotics or tubes, and we were hoping she would be one of the lucky ones to grow out of reactive airway disorder, as many kids do when they develop signs of asthma at a very young age. The naturopath had us put her on an elimination diet to help soothe her irritated system and allow it to return to normal functioning. There were so many things on the forbidden list (like foods prepared with sunflower, corn, soy, peanut, safflower, and canola oils) so I was making just about everything from scratch–something I hadn’t really done before. It was exhausting, especially since I was also 5 months pregnant.
Did you know that the vast majority of commercially-baked bread contains soybean oil? There are more alternatives now than there were 4 years ago but back then, to get bread without an oil on the forbidden list meant spending around $4/loaf. I quickly acquired a bread machine and a love for baking bread at home.
The chiropractic adjustments seemed to work and eventually, we stopped going to this team. I tried to keep some of the suggestions from the naturopath, but most were not maintainable for our family for the long term and didn’t appear to make any difference anyway. But I still bake bread, from time to time. There’s nothing quite like it.
You don’t need a bread machine to make bread at home–but it does make the process a little easier. I’ve included more traditional instructions as well so you don’t have to run out and buy new equipment (though if you are interested, this is the machine I have and I love it!). If you want to make it a little healthier, you can substitute up to 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat or–which I prefer–KAF White Whole Wheat flour without it affecting the texture negatively. This is a sturdy loaf that works well for sandwiches or–my favorite way to eat fresh bread–toast. Smear some Kerrygold butter on there and you have a meal fit for the gods. For storage, I recommend something like the Progressive International Adjustable Bread Keeper, though the bread will always taste best on the first day.
Honeyed Walnut Bread
adapted from Biggest Book of Bread Machine Recipes (Better Homes and Gardens Cooking)
makes one 1.5-lb loaf
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup local honey
- 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
- 3 cups bread flour
- 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
Add the ingredients to the bread machine pan per manufacturer’s suggestion (in my case, that means all the wet ingredients first, then dry, with the yeast being the last thing added). Select 1.5-lb loaf size, crust color, and the basic white bread cycle. Check during the first 5 minutes of kneading to be sure the dough ball isn’t too dry (not gathering as a ball–in which case, add more milk) or too wet (slopping around instead of kneading–add more flour). Wait for the machine to indicate when you can add in the walnuts, typically around 15 minutes into the cycle. Then sit back and wait for the magic to happen. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
If you don’t have a bread machine, you can still make this. The usual manner would be as follows:
Knead by hand or with a stand mixer with dough hook. Cover and set it in a warm, draft-free place to let it rise until double in size. Punch down, add in the walnuts, put it in your greased bread pan and let it rise a second time for 40 minutes or so. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 30 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when thumped.