This morning I tried yet another recipe from allrecipes.com and with a few changes I think this might be The One! The One Bread to Rule Them All! The Chosen One! Here it is.
Bread (how's that for a catchy name?)
1 c. warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit/45 degrees centigrade)
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 cups white flour/bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Scant 1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten
2 tablespoons golden flax seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
We'll be starting with the bread machine, then moving to the oven to finish. Put the warm water in the bread machine bowl, then add the sugar and yeast. Swish it around a little to mix and then let the yeast proof for about 10 minutes.
Mix the flours, flax seed and salt together in another bowl. Begin scooping the dry mixture into the bread machine. When you get most of it in there, start the bread machine mixing on the "dough" setting. When most of the dry stuff has been mostly incorporated into the liquid, pour the olive oil on top of the glob of dough that is bouncing around in the bread machine. Close the top and let the dough cycle finish.
As soon as the machine beeps to tell you the dough cycle is over, start preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Punch down the dough and remove it from the bread machine. Form it into a loaf and place it in a greased cast iron loaf pan. Cover it with a cloth and set it on top of the oven while the oven preheats. When the oven has preheated and the dough has risen a little above the top of the pan, pop it in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or so until the loaf is golden brown and you can touch the top of it without burning your hand. Remove it from the oven, then from the pan, and let it cool on a rack.
This turned out to be a delicious, light bread that sliced very neatly and (so far at least) has not died out to a pile of crumbs, as my bread has been wont to do.
Adding the oil last is a trick I picked up from my Home-Ec queen sister in law Vania, who said that the oil can coat the yeast particles and inhibit them, so it's best to add it after they have been incorporated into the rest of the dough.
Yield: One loaf for slicing or half a loaf for slicing and the other half for a hungry teenaged boy to devour in about 3 bites