Bread

So one of my on-going battles is finding bread that doesn’t have high-fructose corn syrup OR soybean oil OR anything that includes “hydrogenated.” I can usually find something at the grocery store (particularly our little corner store), but then I’m limited to whatever was made that week. And sometimes I don’t feel like onion bread or pumpernickle, or whatever. So, being the vaguely industrious sort, I figured I’d make my own. I’ve made bread before, but this was my first time making whole wheat bread.

I used a recipe from AllRecipes.com, and it can be found here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Simple-Whole-Wheat-Bread/Detail.aspx. In case that link ever breaks or changes, I’m also going to paste in the recipe and ingredient list (it’s so simple!), including what I actually used and what I actually did.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) | I didn’t actually test the temperature of the water…and maybe I should have
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast | I bought Hodgson Mill yeast, because it was at the supermarket, and I thought I’d give it a try. The package says there’s 25% more (for higher loaves!), but I actually put in less yeast, then wondered why my bread didn’t have a ton of loft
  • 1/3 cup honey | I bought Wee Bee raw honey which turned out to be SO MUCH easier than regular honey to work with
  • 5 cups bread flour | I got King Arthur unbleached bread flour – the company makes organic bread flour, but my store didn’t have it
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted | I bought Organic Valley cultured butter – I have no idea where they’re located, because (as their web site touts) they have 1652 farmers in their co-op
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour | I bought Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour, only partly because of the name
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.| I did all my mixing by hand (well, big spoon), and I think that next time I’m going to use my mixer. I don’t think I was particularly thorough, and I suspect this is also why I have an achy shoulder today… And I think my water wasn’t warm enough (or I used too little yeast) because I wouldn’t have described my dough as “big and bubbly;” it was more “companionably including itself in my afternoon in small increments” but it did visibly swell. The flour-adding step is messy; step one should be “put on an apron and the dogs outside.”
  2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.| I melted the butter, then added the honey and salt to the butter, mixed it up so it was totally combined, then added that mixture to the dough. I have no idea if that is recommended, but after the flour-adding mess, this seemed like a better choice. Then I stirred in the two cups of wheat flour, which I started out adding in small doses, got tired of mixing, and then added the remaining amount in a big glom, which didn’t actually seem to be bad for the dough. It all got mixed in, eventually. “Not real sticky” is a surprisingly accurate way to describe the point at which I gave up kneading this stuff. I think I did a pretty good job, and I probably added about a cup more flour; however, it was like I was wearing mittens made of dough. Maybe I needed more flour, I’m not sure. My end result wasn’t too dense or doughy, so I think I was probably just safe in that regard. I didn’t turn the dough once I got it into the greased bowl – I had just washed my hands and enough was enough. It took a long time for it to double (and that is really just an estimation of what size it finally got to); I probably waited for an hour and a half then went onto the next step.
  3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.| Punch down! Yeah! My dough never topped the pans by an inch, but it did rise from about halfway up the pan to the top of the pan wall, which was good enough for me. But that also took awhile, maybe an hour.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely. | I baked the bread for 27 minutes, and it turned out great. I did brush the tops with butter, and it’s a really nice touch. They tops of the loaves are still soft, and it’s a few days later now. I was worried about overbaking, but they came out lovely. I think the honey probably adds a lot of moisture. This bread is sweet and hearty, and shouldn’t be dense. I gave a loaf to my husband to take to work, and one to my parents. The third one I ate half of within an hour of it “cooling completely.”

I definitely want to make this again (I’ll probably concentrate on making one loaf instead of 3), and I also want to try out a beer bread.

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