Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Honey wheat bread (with update)

Nothing smells more heavenly and stirs more positive memories than a loaf of bread wafting from the oven. (It's not everyday that I get to use wafting in a sentence. That was pretty exciting!) The added bonus for me is that it's not filled with things I can't spell or pronounce. No hidden additives and no preservatives. Just healthy ingredients that, when mixed together and risen to perfection, feel like velvet as I turn it into the loaf pan.

I started making bread about 30 years ago. Since then, I have tried countless recipes and this is my favorite, and the favorite of my family. I generally can rack up about 10 bonus wife points with this recipe.

I'd like to say that I'm a purist and that I make this delicious bread the old-fashioned way. I'd like to say that, but I can't. I'm a little on what some might call the lazy side (I prefer to think I'm practicing time management), so I let my bread machine do most of the work. I use the "dough" setting for mixing, kneading, and the first rising. Then I transfer the dough to a loaf pan for the final rising and baking. It's a visual thing for me. I prefer my bread to look like a loaf and not a square box. And I despise the hole in the bottom of the bread that's left by the mixing / kneading blade.

Here's what you'll need:

Non-stick spray
1 1/8 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour, or 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour*
1 cup bread flour, or 1 1/2 cups bread flour*
(*flour to total 3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil, or melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 egg (optional) 

Spray the bread machine canister with non-stick spray. Add ingredients in the order recommended in your bread machine manual. Select the "dough" setting and then take a nap, read a book, or whatever. You'll have about 1 3/4 hours, give or take a few minutes.

At the end of the "dough" setting, transfer the dough to a loaf pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Shape as needed and press lightly to remove air bubbles. I hate those pesky holes in the middle of sandwich bread.

Optional: gently use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the bread with a beaten egg. 

Cover the pan with a clean cloth, place in a warm area, and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Slather with butter and enjoy!

  • This recipe works even if you're not into time management like I am. You can omit the bread machine and make this recipe completely on your own, or use your bread machine for the entire process.
  • Water can be used instead of milk. I like the milk's nutritional benefits and the beautiful texture and enhanced flavor it adds to the bread.
  • If you don't have a food thermometer, about 50 seconds in the microwave will warm the milk to approximately 110 degrees.
  • Apply non-stick spray to the measuring cup you'll use for the honey. The honey will slide out of the measuring cup with absolutely no help from you.
I'm off to decide how I should use those 10 bonus wife points I earned today. Better yet, I might just make another loaf and go for 20!

UPDATE 10/26/10
Several people have emailed me asking if this recipe can be increased to produce a larger loaf. The answer is absolutely! I love the larger loaf...it's so pretty, and I love the smaller loaf, too.....it's so pretty!

Here are the ingredient conversions:

1 3/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups whole wheat flour, or 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour*
1 1/2 cups bread flour, or 2 cups bread flour*
(*flour to total 4 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons olive oil, or melted butter
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 

Recipe directions remain the same.