Thursday, October 4, 2007

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I'm working from home today, which means that I can bake over the lunch hour. At the office, I tend to use my lunch hours for portable craft projects, like crochet, embroidery, or hand quilting. But today, since I'm working from home, I'm using my lunch hour to mix up a batch of whole wheat bread. Generally, I use my sourdough starter for this, but my starter is in the freezer right now until the weather is cooler...I bake a lot more homemade bread and rolls when the temperatures are consistently below freezing.

In any case, since my sourdough starter is still at rest (in the freezer), I'm going to use a recipe that I found and made several times this past summer. It's from the book "Don't Panic--Dinner's in the Freezer,"a wonderful cookbook if you're interested in saving time and money while preparing make-ahead meals. You cook once and freeze at least half of what you make to thaw and finish at a later time. This book and one called "Once-a-Month Cooking" have both been wonderful in helping me to better manage my time at home, while still providing our family with delicious, healthy, homemade meals.

One note I should make is that the recipe called for all-purpose flour, but I haven't tried it that way, so I changed my ingredient list to call for bread flour, which I nearly always have on hand these since I bake quite often. Also, I have varied my method a bit from the instructions in the book because I always use the methods that my grandmother and mother used, which I learned from them.

I remember when I was taking a food science lab class in college that my instructor scolded me once for kneading my bread like my grandmother did, telling me that I was breaking the gluten strands and that my bread would not rise properly. Apparently, the rest of the students used the method she had demonstrated to use, but I had always made bread the way I had learned to make it at home. Long story short, when we cut into each student's loaf that day, my loaf was the only one that rose as it should. The instructor had to admit that the method my grandmother used worked really well. I think Grandma would have had a good chuckle over that if she had still been alive.

3-1/2 to 4 cups bread flour
2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large egg

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt; mix well. In a saucepan, heat milk, water, honey, and oil until temperature is 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit (I use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature) Then add flour mixture to liquid. Add the egg, and blend at low speed to moisten and then beat 3 minutes at medium speed, adding some of the remaining white flour until it's the right consistency to remove from the mixing bowl and finish the dough by kneading on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic, at least five minutes. Place dough into a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with a warm, damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place until light and doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide into two parts and form into two two loaves. Place each loaf into a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Cover the pans again with a warm, damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place until light and doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pans and cool. If you want to freeze one or both of the loaves, use a zippered freezer bag with a good seal, pressing out the extra air before closing. On the day you want to serve the frozen bread, thaw it at room temperature.


Andrea said...

Thanks for sharing that recipe. I will have to try it out.

Karen said...

Thank you, Andrea. It's definitely one of my new favorites. :-)

USAincognito said...

You have such diligence to do so much baking and cooking! I tend to just skip meals for an entire day because I am too tired to bother to cook anything! Terrible, I know! And so unhealthy but half the time I really would rather sleep than eat.

Karen said...

Well, it's something that I really enjoy doing. I get tired, too, from working and the long commute that I have to and from work most days of the week, but I find cooking and baking relaxing. And I guess it's also motivating to have my husband at home to cook for as well. I was single for nearly 35 years before getting married, and I didn't cook or bake as much then as I do now. But even then, I looked for opportunities to cook for friends and family. I love my work, but I definitely love being a homemaker as well.