Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Honey Wheat Bread

Bread. It's such a simple, basic staple. Think about it. When the meterologists start forecasting "snowmageddons", the first two items to disappear from the grocery stores are milk and bread. It's on most of our grocery lists week in and week out. We grab our favorite pre-sliced bread, toss it in our cart and don't give it much more thought than that. Bread can be, and is, so much more than what you can grab off the bread aisle at your local grocery store.

I am obsessed with bread. I love to look at it, eat it, read about it, think about it, eat it, wait, did I say that already? Yeah, I really like bread. Until now, it's always been a long distance relationship. I was afraid of it. The whole multiple rising and kneading and water at the perfect temperature, it was too much for me. I finally decided to take the plunge a couple of weeks ago and throw my apron into the ring and take bread baking on once and for all. Round one definitely went to the bread. It was a defeat of epic proportions. I picked myself up from under the table where the bread had managed to toss me, dusted the bread flour off of my apron and stepped back ino the ring. Round two's outcome? I was victorious!

I scoured the internet looking for just the right recipe for my first attempt. I settled on a highly acclaimed recipe from I'll include the link to the original recipe, but below I'm going to list out my slightly altered directions. They all came from suggestions and comments from reviewers on the site.

Makes 2 9x5 loaves

1 (.25) ounce package *rapid rise yeast
*Apparently my small town doesn't believe in carrying rapid rise yeast. If, like me, all you have is active dry yeast, you will need to increase the amount by 25%, which means you will need .3125 ounces of active dry yeast. A scale comes in very handy here! And wouldn't you know, I just won a scale! More on that to come later.
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100 degrees F)
1 (12 fluid ounce) can of evaporated milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup melted shortening
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups (240 grams) whole wheat flour
3 cups (360 grams) white bread flour
2 tablespoons butter

1. Make sure your water is at 100 degrees F, and add the yeast and sugar and lightly stir. Let rest for about 5-10 minutes, until the yeast has started to bubble and foam.

2. Combine evaporated milk, water, shortening, honey, salt and whole wheat flour in a food processor or the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let rest for 15 minutes.

3. Add the bread flour and process until the dough forms a ball. If using a food processor, process the dough an additional 80 seconds. I used my stand mixer and worked the dough for about 3-5 minutes and then removed it to a well floured counter to knead by hand. If your dough is very tacky (mine was) feel free to liberally flour the counter and the dough itself until it is easier to knead. Knead by hand for 5-8 minutes.

4. Place the dough in a buttered bowl for its first rise. It's best to use a slightly warm bowl. Heat your oven to 170 degrees F (or its lowest setting), turn the oven off and then place an oven proof bowl in for a few minutes, just until warm, then butter and add your dough. Cover with plastic wrap and store in a warm, draft free area. I placed my bowl on my dryer (while running) and closed the laundry room door. Let rise until almost doubled in size, time will vary depending on the temperature of the room. 45 minutes - 2 hours.

5. Once doubled, punch down the dough and divide in half. Roll out each half and pound out the bubbles. Form into loaves, and place in buttered 9x5 bread pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and return them to your warm area for their last rise. Again, depending on temperature, it should take 30-60 minutes.


6. Place a small pan of water on the bottom shelf of your oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. If the tops begin to brown too fast, simply tent with foil. Butter the tops of the bread while still warm. Slice when cool.

There you have it. Homemade bread! Yes, I know, I need to learn how to slice more consistently sized pieces of bread. I think next time I may even up the wheat flour and cut back on the bread flour to add a little more nutrition into this.

I promise you won't be disappointed with this recipe. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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