Saturday, May 16, 2009

Whole Wheat Honey Bread

If you poke around here too often, you know that I cook from scratch a lot. I have a lot of reasons for this, but the main reasons are because it's just FUN!!, because I don't like eating things I can't pronounce, living frugally, and for food allergies we have with son #2. Plenty of good reasons, right?

So I thought I'd start, from time to time, sharing some of my recipes that I love. Since I make all of our bread (unless I'm in a pinch), I'll start with my basic whole wheat bread recipe. I found it on allrecipes.com, listed as Whole Wheat Honey Bread. The recipe is modified from a bread maker recipe. I don't have a bread machine and wouldn't care to have one. They're expensive, huge, and all they do is bake bread. Hope you enjoy!

Whole Wheat Honey Bread
3 c whole wheat flour, divided (I prefer stone ground)
1 1/8 c milk
1/3 c honey (I opt for local honey...allergies)
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/2 tbsp melted (but not hot) butter (the recipe calls for shortening, but I steer clear of trans fat)
1 1/2 tsp salt

Heat milk and honey together. Stir together and let it cool to (or heat to) 105 degrees (F) and sprinkle yeast on top of the milk. I like my thermometer, but you can drop a drip on your wrist and it should feel neither hot nor cold. Allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes away from drafts (I just put mine back in the microwave). You'll know it's right when it looks frothy on top. Essentially, you're "waking up" your little gas producers.

Place 2 c (or if your a weight fan like me, 9 oz) of your flour in a very large mixing bowl. Add the frothy milk and stir until there is no more dry flour. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 1 hour or until approximately doubled in volume. It doesn't have to be precise. Some times it can be hard to get a good rise, so here are some things I do for a little insurance. Run a pot of water through your coffee maker. Place an 8x8 casserole dish on the bottom rack of your oven and fill it with half the water. Put the other half on the burner of your coffee maker and turn on the burner. Place the covered bowl of bread dough in the oven but don't turn it on, or even turn the light bulb on. One time I left on the light and it got up to 150 in my oven. That's way too hot for yeast.

After your first rise, take your remaining cup (or 4 1/2 oz) of flour and work it into the dough. Also work in the salt and butter. I seem to get it in easier if I do half the flour, add the salt and butter, then knead in the rest of the flour. You may have to add more flour depending on the weather and humidity where you live, but I've never used less. It should hold together, but not be excessively sticky. Then knead about 10 minutes. They way I check mine is by pinching off a little ball of dough and working it out into a sort of flat membrane thing. If I can get the dough so thin that I can see light through the dough, I've kneaded enough.

Then there's rolling it out. You certainly could just plop it onto some sort of baking sheet and it would be good. But we use ours for sandwiches, so I use a traditional loaf shape.

Place your dough on a floured surface. I like to place my loaf pan on one end. I don't want to roll it too big. Flour your rolling pin and roll into a rectangle. You can roll just as much as your need to lengthwise, but widthwise, try not to get much bigger than your loaf pan or you'll have to squish it to make it fit. If you see air pockets, open them up. Aim for about 1/4 in thickness. It doesn't have to be rocket science. Now to the actual shaping. Begin on one end and tuck and roll the dough up the way you would a jelly roll, being careful not to work in many air pockets. Once you've rolled it up pinch your seam together. Then grab the ends (where you would see the heels of a loaf of bread) and sort of stretch them down tucking them under. Then put all the seams down into your lightly sprayed loaf pan.

Take your 8x8 casserole out of the oven and discard the cold water. Refill the pan with the water on the coffee maker. Cover your loaf pan with the tea towel and rise again for 1 hour or until doubled.

Once an hour has expired, take out the dough leaving it covered and set your oven to 400 degrees (F). I leave the water in the over because I think the crust is better. When you're reached temp, stick your pan back in and bake for about 20 minutes or until your crust is as dark as your like. Then cover with foil and bake for at least 20 minutes more. Sometimes the bake time can drastically vary. If you have a thermometer, you're looking for an internal temperature of about 200 degrees.

I let mine cool completely before I slice. I know hot bread is really good, but squashed bread is not. If you cut it when it's hot, it's more likely to squish.

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Okay, I know this sounds like a lot of instructions, but I didn't want there to be too many questions. Bread making is really not that daunting of a task, really. In fact, I can finish my bread sometimes in under 3 hours including rising time. The rise time depends on how many motherly duties I have, of course.

The finished product

2 edifying expressions:

Brittany Tucker said...

Wow, very inspiring. I'm going to have to try this it looks delicious!

Sharon said...

Your bread looks delicious! I'll have to try it!!