Saturday, February 20, 2010

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Slightly adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, 30th Anniversary Ed. p. 81

Like Shannon, I've been on a bread bender and have baking up a storm. I made from-scratch bread baking a priority for this year's personal goals and it has been a fun process. I own a bread machine and have been making bread in it for years but I wanted to learn how to make and bake it myself. This book has been a fantastic resource and I highly recommend it. Mine came from my local library but I hope to find a copy of my own under the Christmas tree later this year.

This is a wonderful WW loaf that makes a great sandwich bread, french toast or, as I've been eating it, well-toasted and served on the side of soup/stew.

1/4 C clover honey
1/2 C buttermilk (or soured milk made with vinegar)
1 1/4 C hot water (120 to 130 degrees)
2 t salt
2 pkgs rapid rise active dry yeast (you must use rapid rise for this recipe)
4 C whole wheat flour, approx.
1/2 C toasted wheat germ plus one cup for crust
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 T milk

This bread can be made by hand or in a mixer. I did it by hand for the fun of it but the directions are the same for either.

In your mixer bowl, combine honey, buttermilk, water and salt. Stir to dissolve honey. Add yeast, 2 C flour and wheat germ. Beat to blend using paddle attachment or wooden spoon. Add remainder of flour 1/2 C at a time, allowing the dough time to absorb each addition. Do not overload the dough or it may turn into a hard ball. When dough is a rough mass, switch to a dough hook or use your hands.

Knead by hand or machine for 8 minutes. Grease a large bowl and form dough into a ball and place inside. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temp to rise for 20 minutes. If your kitchen is on the cold side as mine is, turn on the oven to 350 for a few minutes and then turn it off. Place dough inside the oven and leave door ajar.

Remove plastic wrap and punch down dough lightly with fingers. Turn dough over and replace plastic wrap. Leave to rise a second time for 40 minutes.

Turn out dough and form into an oval the length of a 9x5 loaf pan. Fold in half and pinch the seam together. Allow to rest while you spread the wheat germ on your work surface. Brush top and sides of loaf with egg yolk and milk mixture and roll it over the wheat germ. Rock it gently back and forth to pick up the wheat germ. Tuck in the ends and place inside your *greased* loaf pan. Don't forget to grease your pan or your bread will stick to the inside like mine did and you have to tear it to get it out. Oops.

Press down bread with the back of your hand and cover pan with a clean towel or wax paper. Allow to rest until risen about 1" above the top of the pan or about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 20 minutes before you plan to bake your bread. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the loaf is dark brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it.

Unmold bread and let it stand, wheat germ side up, on a rack until cool. Wait 2 hours before slicing. Your house will smell like freshly baked bread for 2 days afterwards...such a lovely, lovely smell.

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