This bread was the catalyst for my all-things-homemade-and-from-scratch mission. I had never made bread before, but had always envied my mother’s breadmaking skills. Just a quick side note: my mom makes the most incredible bread for the holidays, a bread our family has dubbed “christmas bread”. It doesn’t look like a christmas tree, doesn’t look particularly festive, but for some reason, we only eat it during the holidays, thus the name. On a basic level, it is raisin bread. But in the foodie description world, it is a flakey, tender, flavorful bread that is perfectly dotted with raisins and presented in a double layer braid fashion. It’s not only beautiful, it is hands-down my all-time favorite bread. Perfect toasted and slathered with butter. Yum. Now I want some. It reminds me of my mom, the holidays, family, winter and all things near and dear to me. That recipe will be upcoming, guess when? For the holidays.
Okay, back to honey whole wheat… Anyhow, I was always scared of bread and yeast. Well, not the bread, but definitely the yeast. I had heard it was delicate, fragile, temperamental. And breadmaking was time consuming. And that kneading? No way, Jose. It was much easier to watch my mom make the bread and for me to eat it.
But I was wrong, so wrong. Making bread is actually quite easy, but like anything, it takes a little practice, so don’t be upset or too hard on yourself if it doesn’t turn out perfectly the first time. I will share with you though in hindsight, when it doesn’t come out perfectly, it’s for 3 reasons: 1) impatience. Waiting sucks, it really does. And when a bread needs to rise twice and you are anxiously waiting in anticipation and thinking about sinking your teeth into that yummy deliciousness, hours can seem like days. 2) impatience. Patience really is a virtue, especially in the bread world. And 3) you killed the yeast. Did I really say that? Yes, and it is harder to do than you think. Maybe you got a dud of a batch. Or perhaps your water was too warm. Or maybe you didn’t feed it enough. Yes, yeast is alive and needs to be fed. Or maybe your warm space for proofing was too warm. Up until the moment you bake the bread, you can kill the yeast. Be gentle. Be kind to the yeast. 🙂
I found this recipe for Simple Whole Wheat Bread on allrecipes.com. After making it a couple times following the recipe to a T, I decided I wanted it more wheaty. (I know that’s not a word, but I’m going with it.) So I modified it slightly, but only slightly, because it is a pretty perfect, easy recipe as it is.
- 3 C. warm water (I just turn my tap water to hot and let it run for minute)
- 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1/3 C. honey
- 2 C. all-purpose flour
- 3 C. whole wheat flour
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/3 C. honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
- more all-purpose flour for dusting
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Thoroughly dissolve yeast in water. Add honey and stir. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl. Add all-purpose flour. Using your dough hook, mix. Add 3 C. whole wheat flour. Tilt the mixer and let sit, uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Add 3 T. melted butter, 1/3 C. honey and salt. Mix thoroughly. Add 2 C. whole wheat flour. Continue to add the remaining 1 1/2- 2 C. whole wheat flour until the dough is pulling away from the sides. It should be slightly sticky but not gooey. Turn out onto well-floured surface (make sure to scrape it all out) Knead for 5 minutes. Oil the mixing bowl thoroughly. Toss the dough and coat with the oil. Cover and put in a warm place to rise. It should double in size. (Tip: if you don’t have a nice warm place, when you begin this step, turn your oven to warm for 5 minutes and then turn off. Place bowl in the oven to rise. Make sure it’s not too warm, otherwise you run the risk of killing your yeast this late in the game). Rising should take about an hour.
Punch dough down, divide into three even chunks. Spray three 9×5 bread loaves and place dough in each. Let dough rise for a second time until it tops the pans by an inch.
Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 25 minutes. Do not overbake. When done, brush tops with melted butter so it doesn’t dry out. Cool slightly before removing from pans and turning onto cooling rack to finish cooling.