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An Approachable Recipe

The Happy Monk Approachable Loaf from last week’s Baker’s Choice

Last week’s Baker’s Choice — The Approachable Loaf — proved to be a bit of a hit. People loved the taste, its versatility, ease of cutting, pillowy texture, and keeping ability. It’s a sandwich loaf, first and foremost, but it also toasts well. I really enjoyed a slice, slathered with butter, alongside a bowl of spicy lentil soup. You could have it with a stew, smeared with hummus, with peanut butter for breakfast, or on a hot date with a lusty Spaghetti Bolognese! How did you enjoy yours?

A few had already heard about The Approachable Loaf. It’s a recipe devised by the Bread Lab Collective, a group of topnotch bakers affiliated with the Bread Lab, a wheat breeding and research program affiliated with Washington State University. The program identifies grains that work well for farmers, bakers, brewers, and distillers. They run great courses and seminars for avid home bakers and professionals.

The Approachable Loaf has caused a stir in the bread world, as evidenced by this recent article in the New York Times.

What’s Approachable, again?

Many of the bakers in the Collective have begun marketing their own versions of the Approachable Loaf in supermarkets alongside the mass-produced “Wonder Bread” style counterparts. Its advantage is that it has real ingredients instead of filler, chemicals, or preservatives, and it’s tastier and healthier.

The original formula can have infinite variations, but must conform to these parameters:

  • The bread must be baked in a pan and sliced.
  • It should contain no more than seven ingredients.
  • The bread should not contain non-food, such as chemicals and preservatives.
  • It should consist of at least 60% whole wheat — preferably 100%.
  • It should be priced around CDN $8 per loaf.

I tinkered with the recipe last week, adding freshly milled spelt flour (about 25%) for flavour (and to stretch out my supply of whole wheat flour 😁). I also went with 25% bread flour to give it that pillowy texture. But there’s no reason you can’t go with 100% whole wheat flour and get great results.

Here’s my challenge: Make your own Approachable Loaf!

You’re social distancing, anyway, aren’t you? Are you looking for something constructive to do? Well, this project produces delicious results, it’s healthy, and it could last the better part of a week!

Making this loaf takes a bit of time, but most of it is watching and waiting. There aren’t many ingredients, and most of them you probably already have in your pantry. I’d earnestly suggest you use organic ingredients as much as possible. Anita’s Organic Flours are readily available, and their Whole Wheat flour is superb. If you’re on a tight budget, Rogers Flours are fine!

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, I’ll provide some for you. Use it for this recipe, and I’ll even give you instructions for feeding and caring for your starter … and you too can be a sourdough baker! Drop me a line if you want some starter!

Let me know if you bake this! Send me pictures, and I’ll publish them!

Herewith, the recipe for the Happy Monk Approachable Loaf.

Recipe

The Happy Monk Approachable Loaf

IngredientsLevain 1Final Mix
Whole Wheat Flour½ C. (57g)3 C. (339g)
Bread Flour (or All-Purpose)1 C. + 2 Tbsp. (134g)
Water3 Tbsp. (42g)1½ – 1¾ C. (370g)
Sea Salt (fine)1½ Tsp. (9g)
Instant Yeast½ Tsp. (2g)
Honey1½ Tbsp. (32g)
Vegetable Oil2 Tbsp. + ¾ Tsp. (31g)
Sourdough Starter1 tsp. (4g)

Method

Levain

1. Make the Levain the evening before you mix the dough. Combine all of the ingredients (middle column in the recipe table) in a medium bowl. Cover and set aside to rest at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours.

Dough

2. Mix the levain with the remaining dough ingredients (using 1¾ cups water) 2 and mix vigorously, by hand, until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover the dough, and let it rest for 15 minutes. The dough may feel gloopy and not hang together well at this stage. Don’t worry, though. The next couple of stages will develop more strength in the dough.

3. Uncover the bowl and, over the next hour, fold the dough every 15 minutes using the following technique:

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and stretch and fold it four times. If you think of the dough as a compass, start with the north edge, pulling it away from you then folding it back so that the edge lines up with the center of the dough. Gently dust off any excess flour and repeat this process with the southern edge, followed by east and west. Turn the dough over so the seam side is down, place it back in the bowl. After the four folds, the dough should feel springy to the touch and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.

4. Once the folds are complete, cover the dough and let it rest for 1 hour.

Shape the dough

5. After one hour, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, making a circle, and gently pat it down to de-gas it. Fold the dough in half to make a semicircle, then again to make a quarter circle. Roll the dough into a ball using a gentle circular motion. Place the ball, seam side down, on a floured surface and cover lightly with a damp towel. Let the ball rest for 15 to 20 minutes. It may settle and spread out a little.

6. Turn the dough over onto the floured surface so the seam is facing up, dust off any excess flour, and form the dough into a tight 9-inch loaf. Thinking of the dough as a compass again, fold the northwest and northeast “corners” into the center followed by the northern edge. Repeat this process to form a tight log, releasing some excess gas in the process.

7. Place the loaf into a lightly greased 9” x 5” loaf pan, cover, and let it rise (proof) at warm room temperature until it has risen 1” to 1¼” over the rim of the pan, 1 to 1½ hours.

8. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Bake

9. Using a sharp knife or single razor blade, make a ½” to ¾”-deep slash down the length of the loaf; this will discourage the dough from billowing out from the heat of the oven.

10. Bake the loaf at 425°F for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 33 to 37 minutes longer, until the loaf is golden brown. If you have a digital thermometer insert it into the centre and make sure it reads at least 195°F.

12. Remove the loaf from the oven and turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.

Store your bread, well-wrapped (perhaps in a recycled Happy Monk bag?) at room temperature for three to five days. Freeze for longer storage.

For great ideas on bread storage, read this article by one of my favourite bread bloggers, Maurizio Leo. His website, The Perfect Loaf, is a great repository of information on all things “bread”.

Happy baking, happy eating!

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Pender Island Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Pender Island Apple Bread; Happy Monk Blog: A Water World; And Please Note: We're taking a Bread Break for Two Weeks! - [ See link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Pender Island Apple Bread; Happy Monk Blog: A Water World; And Please Note: We're taking a Bread Break for Two Weeks! - [ See link in Profile ] ...

34 2

Rugbrød going out Sunday morning, for smørrebrød at lunch! For all to enjoy, but especially for my two Danish friends who have been clamouring for this Danish style rye for weeks! And @ellasharpmorton just back from Denmark, triumphant from her artistic conquests and rugbrød in her tummy!
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#rye #ryebread #rugbrød #danishrye #danishryebread #smørrebrød #openfacedsandwich #openfacesandwich #openfacedsandwiches #woodfiredovens #woodfiredbread #woodfiredryebread #breadhead #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #bbga #southpenderisland #southpender #penderislandbc #penderisland
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Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (R Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); My daughter, Ella Morton's art exhibits; Blog Post: Coronavirus in the Sky; PLUS: Wood-fired Oven Update - [ See link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); My daughter, Ella Morton's art exhibits; Blog Post: Coronavirus in the Sky; PLUS: Wood-fired Oven Update - [ See link in Profile ] ...

27 1
Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Baker's Choice: Rye-Currant Pan Loaf; Blog Re-Post: The Island Within; And Mildrith Gratitude - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Baker's Choice: Rye-Currant Pan Loaf; Blog Re-Post: The Island Within; And Mildrith Gratitude - [ See link in profile ] ...

38 2
Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, o Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, or Struan Bread by another name. You throw in a little of whatever grain and meal you have, in this case oats, cooked brown rice, cornmeal, drizzle some Pender Island honey, lots of wholegrain flour. And make it with sourdough! A glorious, flavourful loaf, tender. Sublime when eaten hot from the toaster, schmeared with salted butter.
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#struanbread #harvestbread #pillowybread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #peterreinhart #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, or Struan Bread by another name. You throw in a little of whatever grain and meal you have, in this case oats, cooked brown rice, cornmeal, drizzle some Pender Island honey, lots of wholegrain flour. And make it with sourdough! A glorious, flavourful loaf, tender. Sublime when eaten hot from the toaster, schmeared with salted butter.
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#struanbread #harvestbread #pillowybread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #peterreinhart #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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#happymonkbaking Seed Feast!
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#sourdough #sourdoughbread #bread #breadhead #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #redfife #redfifewheat #seedbread #realbread #bbga
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Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads do not involve the death of any trees. The wood used to heat  Mildrith the wood-fired oven comes from wind-fallen trees on Pender Island which are donated by property owners for a tax receipt. They are then bucked and chopped by volunteers of the Green Angel Choppers and sold  to Pender residents for the going rate of $350 for a cord of firewood. Proceeds are then put into worthy community projects, such as funding solar energy panels for the community hall.  The Happy Monk Baking Company is just one stakeholder in a chain of community “pay it forward” endeavor!
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#community #payitforward #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #woodfiredovens #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #woodfiredhottubs #woodfiredbaking

Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads do not involve the death of any trees. The wood used to heat Mildrith the wood-fired oven comes from wind-fallen trees on Pender Island which are donated by property owners for a tax receipt. They are then bucked and chopped by volunteers of the Green Angel Choppers and sold to Pender residents for the going rate of $350 for a cord of firewood. Proceeds are then put into worthy community projects, such as funding solar energy panels for the community hall. The Happy Monk Baking Company is just one stakeholder in a chain of community “pay it forward” endeavor!
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#community #payitforward #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #woodfiredovens #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #woodfiredhottubs #woodfiredbaking
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Happy Monk Tidings - July 29 - Baker's Choice this Happy Monk Tidings - July 29 - Baker's Choice this week: Rye-Buttermilk Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Pandemic is Beginning to Leave Its Mark. Again! [ See Link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - July 29 - Baker's Choice this week: Rye-Buttermilk Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Pandemic is Beginning to Leave Its Mark. Again! [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But bei ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
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#johnkeats #johnkeatspoems #odetoanightingale #summer #poetry

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
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#johnkeats #johnkeatspoems #odetoanightingale #summer #poetry
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Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees ho Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees honey for tomorrow’s Baker’s Choice bread. This is really delicious honey and it comes from our fair Pender Isle! Beautiful aroma and subtle flower taste!  Can’t wait to start pulling these loaves out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven!
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#honey #honeybread #spelt #speltbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #artisanbread #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #baker #bakery #bbga #realbread #breadhead #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees honey for tomorrow’s Baker’s Choice bread. This is really delicious honey and it comes from our fair Pender Isle! Beautiful aroma and subtle flower taste! Can’t wait to start pulling these loaves out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven!
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#honey #honeybread #spelt #speltbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #artisanbread #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #baker #bakery #bbga #realbread #breadhead #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Happy Monk Tidings - This week's Baker's Choice: Spelt and Honey Loaf, featuring Barry's Bees Honey!; And Blog Excerpt: Confessions of a Would-Be Baker [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye f Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye for the rye aficionados and the Happy Monk Blog: This Living Rock Island - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye for the rye aficionados and the Happy Monk Blog: This Living Rock Island - [ See link in profile ] ...

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The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written o The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written on the backside of a Salish Sourdough loaf from last week. You can see the rectangular impressions of the hearth firebricks. This is as good as a certificate of authenticity, made by Mildrith and the Happy Monk, South Pender Island!😃 you won’t see it in pan loaves, though. Look for it next time you open up a bag of HM bread! 
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written on the backside of a Salish Sourdough loaf from last week. You can see the rectangular impressions of the hearth firebricks. This is as good as a certificate of authenticity, made by Mildrith and the Happy Monk, South Pender Island!😃 you won’t see it in pan loaves, though. Look for it next time you open up a bag of HM bread!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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37 2

Sourdough Pan Loaf raised on a pedestal.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #sandwichloaf #panloaf #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at you from the crust. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #olives #olivebread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at you from the crust. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #olives #olivebread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourd Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourdoughs risen and baked exuberantly to a luscious golden colour. The oven had baked two loads previously and it’s still just shy of 500ºF in there. She’s my inanimate love with a soul!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourdoughs risen and baked exuberantly to a luscious golden colour. The oven had baked two loads previously and it’s still just shy of 500ºF in there. She’s my inanimate love with a soul!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on t 100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on this day of rest. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbaking #sourdoughbread #rye #ryebread #ryebaking #ryecurrantbread #southpender #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #penderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery #bbga

100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on this day of rest. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbaking #sourdoughbread #rye #ryebread #ryebaking #ryecurrantbread #southpender #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #penderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery #bbga
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  1. This is the Wild Yeast component of the dough. It is simply made of a freshly-fed sourdough starter. Make it the evening before you mix the dough.

  2. Hold back a small portion of this water and add it later if you feel the dough needs a little more moisture.

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