Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I can’t believe the semester is nearly over. Long lectures, early morning labs, late night study sessions, all-nighters for work, and applications to Canadian graduate programs have certainly made the time fly by. I have a camera full of food shots from the meals and treats I’ve squeezed in in the last month or so, but no time to post! Luckily we get a week off for Thanksgiving, so I’m hoping to be able to share at least a few of them with you. I have a delicious dish I’m hoping to make for Thanksgiving dinner, but knowing me you probably won’t see it until Spring, haha.

I don’t know how blog divas like Ree and Deb do it. I certainly won’t say balancing work and school is easy, but I think being a parent trumps all. Kodus to all you moms and dads out there who can make home-cooked meals while juggling parenting and a work schedule – sometimes even school as well. You are my heroes!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

(an amalgamation from both Ratio and The River Cottage Handbook)

Ingredients:

4   C   whole wheat flour (or just over 1 pound)

4   C   AP flour (or just over 1 pound)

1   T   instant yeast*

4   t   salt

2 ½   C   water, at room temperature

2   T   honey

* Note: If you’re like me and store your yeast in the fridge, allow the Tablespoon of yeast to come to room temperature before mixing.

Procedure:

  1. Pour water into a bowl and add honey. Stir until the honey has completely dissolved. Add yeast and let sit until bubbles begin to form (about 5 minutes)
  2. Stir together flours and salt in a separate bowl. Add water mixture to flour and stir until dough forms.
  3. Kneed dough with an electric mixer with paddle attachment or turn dough out onto floured surface to kneed by hand. Work until dough has pulled together, is silky smooth, and rather stretchy. You can try the windowpane test as described in the Basic Ratio Bread post, but I’ve never really managed to get as stretchy a dough as folks describe. I used my roommate’s Kitchenaid this time around and kneeded for about 10 minutes, with frequent stops to kneed a bit by hand to check consistency.
  4. Divide dough in half. Place each half in a large, floured mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until doubled in size (about 3 hours for me, but my kitchen was cold at the time).
  5. Turn doughs out, kneed and work each a bit to expel gas and redistribute yeast. Shape each half into nice oval rounds and place in bread pans. Cover each with a towel and let proof for at least another hour.
  6. Repeat Step 5 up to 4 times to improve flavor, if desired (I’m impatient so I proofed only once).
  7. Once dough has risen up in the bread pans, preheat oven to 500°F. Bake bread for 10 minutes, then check and adjust the temperature using the following conditions: if the crust is still pale, turn temp. down to 400°F. If the crust is noticeably browning, turn the temp. down to 350°F. If the crust is browning quickly, turn down to 325°F.
  8. Bake until the loaves are well browned, crusty, and feel hollow when you tap the bottoms (about 40 – 50 minutes).
  9. Remove loaves from the oven and allow to cool completely before turning out of the pans. Trust me, I did not believe this tip and ended up ripping the bottom off my first loaf.
  10. Enjoy!

Beezer’s Notes:

This is my standard bread recipe now. It’s light enough for chewy PB&J sandwiches, but hearty enough for morning toast – my two deal-breakers, haha. I know it’s not 100% whole wheat (which you can do by simply making all 4 Cups whole wheat flour), but I find I enjoy the 100% kind much less and so this 50/50 flour combo is a good compromise for me. Also, I’m glad I attempted the double recipe as described in The River Cottage Bread Handbook. Having twice the amount of dough to kneed seemed like a formidable undertaking and at first I wasn’t sure I wanted to try it. The electric mixer certainly helped, though it still felt like a bit of a cop-out, and both loaves turned out beautifully. The best part is that I have one loaf in the freezer to pull out as soon as I finish the first; with less time to bake these days it’s very convenient.

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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