honey wheat bread


I have needed slow baking these days.  After the (fun) chaos of an Easter weekend bridal shower and family Easter dinner, I honestly wanted to swear off the kitchen for awhile.  My feet were hurting (and I even remembered not to stand barefoot all day, as I am prone to do).  My back was hurting.  And so last week I didn’t really do a whole lot.  Actually, I hardly even went to the grocery store last week, except to get the things we couldn’t wait another week for.

To get back into the kitchen, I needed something slow and gentle.  Something that wasn’t too labor intensive at any one step.  I needed to bake bread and let it rise for an afternoon and smell that aroma of yeast growing warm.  I wanted to knead it and feel it go from sticky mess to elastic dough under my hands.  I wanted to smell how freshly baked bread smells, and remember the way it is relaxing, to remember that the only thing I even slightly dislike about making bread is measuring out my ingredients and cleaning up my flour covered countered.  The rest is magic though–the stirring and the kneading and the rising and the smell.
I buy honey wheat bread at the store all the time.  And while I’m not going to stop doing that any time soon, taking the time to actually make some is a treat.

Honey Wheat Bread
from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Wait Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes

Makes 2 loaves

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon table salt
2 (1/4 oz.) envelopes active dry yeast
2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup cold water
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups whole wheat flour, milk powder, salt, and yeast.  Stir to combine.
2. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stir in the honey and butter, stirring until the butter melts.  Remove from heat and add the 1 cup of cold water to cool it down.
3. Immediately add the water and honey mixture into the dry ingredients, beating with electric mixer at low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes.
4. Gradually add the 1 cup of whole wheat flour, followed by just enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough (1/2 cup at a time), continuing to beat until the dough begins to come together.
5. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured counter top or other flat surface.  Knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).
6. Place the dough in a well-greased bowl, turning the dough over so that the top gets greased.  Cover and let rise in a warm place (I like to let it rise in my oven…with the oven turned off) about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.
7. Punch the dough down.  Divide into 2 equal parts.  Roll each portion flat out into a rectangle about 15 x 10 inches.  Roll each portion up, jelly-roll style, from short end to short end.
8. Place each roll, seam side down, into a 9 x 5 inch greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled in bulk.
9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake bread for 40-45 minutes, loosely tenting the loaves with tinfoil after about 25 minutes to prevent excessive browning.
10. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and let cool completely.  Store in a zip top plastic bag or wrapped in plastic wrap.

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