Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Honey Whole Wheat BreadIt wasn’t long ago that I had an irrational fear of yeast. Well, okay. Not a fear really. More of a slight hesitation about using it. I just knew I would kill it somehow, and then my baking project would be sunk. But using yeast for the first time in my cinnamon rolls was much easier than I thought it would be. Maybe there was hope! I’ve always wanted to make bread, but it just seemed like too much work, and too risky. More yeast, and much more ingredients to possibly ruin. But I was willing to give it a try with my new found yeasty confidence. When Kiesha left for NYC, I inherited her multitude of flours—including 2 really full bags of both bread flour and whole wheat flour. As I found room for them in my pantry, the gears started turning in my head as I made space next my leftover packets of yeast and my half used bottle of honey. I remembered seeing a recipe in Martha for Honey Whole Wheat Bread. Sure enough, there it was. And thanks to Kiesha’s additions, I already had most of the ingredients. The only thing I was missing—wheat germ. But it can’t be that hard to find, right? Well, let me help you out and save you some time if you’ve never looked for wheat germ in your grocery store. It’s probably not with the baking supplies. Try near the oatmeal. It took me a couple weeks of grocery trips to multiple stores to figure that one out. (Yes. I’m just like a man. I never stop and ask for directions. It’ll take me a couple hundred wrong turns and half a day’s worth of lost time, but I’ll figure out where I’m going. On my own.)

Making the bread actually wasn’t too bad. There were some touch and go spots, but all in all, it came out great. The recipe says to mix your flour and yeast mixture together with a wooden spoon until it’s all incorporated. If I had tried to do that entire thing with a wooden spoon, I’d STILL be mixing! I had to dump the spoon and dive in with my hands to get all the flour incorporated. And even then, I didn’t think it was going to happen. But after about 5 minutes, it finally did, and I started on kneading the dough. I have to say, although my arms are a little sore today, I totally enjoyed kneading! It’s very rhythmic and relaxing. It was probably the best part of making the bread! The first proofing went well. The second—the directions tell you to preheat your oven to 400F. So I did. Then you divide your dough and shape it to put into the pan. Got it. Then it tells you to let your dough proof a second time in a warm spot for 30-45 minutes... Well, my warm spot was my oven--which is now a HOT spot since I just preheated it to 400F. I had to turn my oven off and leave the door open to let it cool down a bit before I could do my second proofing… Guess I should read through my directions completely before I start.

The smell of baking bread is amazing. It filled the whole house with this great yeasty smell (which unlike my cinnamon roll baking, didn’t linger for days! Yay! I like the smell, but not that much). And the taste is even better. It’s subtly sweet, not an overpowering honey flavor (which I’m almost sad about, but not really.) It’s great sliced up and spread with butter and jam. Or drizzle a little honey on it. Serve it up as French toast. Make sandwiches out of it. Whatever you can think to do with this bread, do it! It’s really good! And with its whole wheat and wheat germ, it might even be good for you! Although probably not with the amount of butter and jam I slathered on my pieces… I still can’t believe I made bread! My very own bread! With yeast that I didn’t kill! I can’t wait to try even more breads! The bread world is MINE!

Honey Whole Wheat BreadHoney Whole Wheat Bread
From Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Makes two 9-inch loaves

3 ½ cups warm water (about 110F)
3 tablespoons honey
2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
4 ½ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
4 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons coarse salt
Vegetable oil, for bowl, pans, and plastic wrap
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream (I used milk)

1. Combine the warm water, honey, and yeast in a large liquid measuring cup, stirring until the yeast dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk 4 cups bread flour with the whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt. Make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually drawing in the dry ingredients until combined.
3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead in the remaining ½ cup bread flour a little at a time until dough is smooth and elastic, 10 to 15 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl; cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 400F, with rack in the center. Brush two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with oil. Punch down dough with your fist, then turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough in half. Flatten one half into an oval approximately the length of the pan, and roll up lengthwise, gently pressing as you go you to form a tight log. Place the log, seam side down, into a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loaf pans with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30 to 45 minutes.
5. Using a lame or a razor blade, slash the loaves down the center in one quick, even motion. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with the heavy cream, and brush over the tops of the loaves.
6. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. (If tops are browning too quickly during the last 30 minutes of baking, tent with aluminum foil.) Transfer pans to a wire rack, and let cool 5 minutes. Turn out the loaves onto the rack to cool completely before serving.
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Aimee @ Chickenville said...

Fresh baked bread is one of my favorite smells in the whole world! I even love the smell of yeast by itself.

Good for you for taking the leap to yeast. As my husband always says, "brain surgery is only hard when you don't know how to do it".

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