Friday, February 13, 2009

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

(very loosely adapted from Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking)

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry (NOT instant or quick-rise) yeast
2 cups whole milk, heated to bloodwarm
1/4 cup mild honey (or more or less to taste -- this makes a very mildly sweet loaf)

2 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 - 2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour

Dissolve yeast and honey in milk and let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. Whisk in eggs, salt, and rolled oats. Stir in whole wheat flour and 1 cup AP flour. Add AP flour until mixture forms a shaggy ball. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes, adding only enough AP flour to prevent sticking.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans (I prefer glass -- better browning!).

Gently deflate the dough and cut into halves. Press each half into a rectangle about 12" wide by 18" long. Fold the bottom fourth of the dough up, pinching to seal. Continue folding and sealing. Tuck the ends under and pinch to seal. Place loaf seam side down in one pan. Repeat with other half of dough.

Cover loosely with a towel and let the loaves rise until the top of the dough is about 2 inches above the rim of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375.

Bake loaves 35-40 minutes or until evenly browned and hollow-sounding when tapped. Do not overbake! Allow to cool as completely as you can bear before slicing. Delicious toasted.


Laura's Dad said...

You can make this high protein bread by reducing the milk by 3/4 cup and adding a cup of low-fat cottage cheese. Just do the cottage cheese in a blender (with enough of the remaining 1 & 1/4 cup of milk to make it blend-able)until smooth. This adds a fascinating tanginess to the bread. AND, you can add wheat-germ with the rolled oats, up to 1/4 cup.

Indeed, this bread is so hearty, it can withstand any number of reasonable additions. We even tried adding grated parmesan cheese on occasion: it actually makes it a bit lighter for some reason.

That's how Laura's mom (my wife) used to do it. She baked at least two loaves of this bread (with the cottage cheese and wheat germ additions)every week for several years when we were first married.

As to the cooling as completely as you can bear: many were the times we shared a fresh, warm loaf with our friends Jim and Val -- a whole pot of strong coffee, a whole loaf of bread, a whole stick of butter, and a whole pint of home-made strawberry preserves made a spectacular time of fellowship around 10:00 on a Saturday morning. This bread was also among the first things Laura fed herself.

Okay, enough for now.

Eric said...

I think this recipe sounds delicious. I've been looking for a "no fail" wheat bread and I am going to love trying this. Thank you.


Christi Lee said...

darn, I saw that Eric had commented. I nearly passed out thinking my hubby had commented.

Laura said...

Thanks, Suzie! Hope you enjoy it!

I wouldn't put it past him, Christi... he'd definitely comment just to say something smart-alecky, right? ;)

Aimee said...

I made this, but it didn't rise enough and is a bit dense. My first time making bread, but I'm thinking I either added too much flour or kneeded too much?

In the instructions you say to add I cup a AP flour and then enough to form a shaggy ball. Does this mean 1 cup PLUS extra flour, or whatever you need of that 1 cup to form a shaggy ball? (hope that makes sense?)


Laura said...

Hi Aimee, so glad you made the bread! I had the same experience when I started baking. I can just about promise you it was from adding too much flour. Whole wheat bread never gets perfectly smooth-feeling -- it's always a bit sticky to the touch. In other words, it'll stick to the bench slightly and to your hands a bit when you're working with it. If you add enough flour so it doesn't stick at all, you've added too much.

When kneading by hand it's almost impossible to over-knead unless you're going after it for 15 minutes!

In the instructions it means add 1 cup PLUS enough to make it form a shaggy ball.

Don't be discouraged! Bread-baking is a bit intuitive, so it may take you a few loaves to get the hang of it. And even dense homemade bread is better than store-bought! It makes GREAT toast.

Hope that helps!

Aimee said...

Okay, I've made it three times now, and it still turns out dense (though I know its me, not the recipe!!). I have a photo over here:

Not sure what I'm doing wrong???

You're right though, it makes yummy toast, even my 18 month old loves it!