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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

High Altitude Baking Recipe of the Week
Susan Purdy, my friend and baking mentor who wrote the definitive high altitude cookbook called Pie in the Sky, included some fantastic bread recipes which I love baking whenever I get a few free hours. I have tried and retried all the recipes in this section and every one is a winner — but one of my favorites is this simple honey whole wheat recipe. Whole wheat honey bread is so delicious and such a great project for a cold winter day, so give it a try.

2 1/8 teaspoon dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 whole milk
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch salt
1 cup unbleached bread flour
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

In a cup, combine yeast warm water and 2 teaspoons sugar. Stir and set aside 3-4 minutes till mixture bubbles up. Meanwhile in a small sauce pan, combine milk, 1/2 cup water, butter, salt and honey and set over low heat till mixture feels quite warm — about 120 degrees and bubbles form around the edge of the liquid. Pour mixture into a large bowl and let cool till you can touch it comfortably — to about 110 degrees. Stir in 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of white bread flour. Then add yeast mixture and beat hard for several minutes by hand, or be smart and use the paddle attachment on your electric mixer. Gradually stir in the remaining 1/4 to 1/2 cups of wheat flour. Continue mixing till dough comes together and looks stretchy. To knead with mixer switch to dough hook and mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes. Or put dough on table and mix by hand. Add more flour if necessary. Now you are ready for the first rise. Place dough in a oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place till almost double, about 45 minutes. Once dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto floured surface and knead it once or twice. Return dough to oiled bowl and let rise again 40-45 minutes.

While dough is doing its second rise, prepare a loaf pan with a little bit of oil or non stick spray. Preheat oven to 425. Now make the loaf. Punch down the dough and and knead it a few times on the floured counter. Pat and press the dough into a 8x11 rectangle. Roll the dough into a log about 3 1/2 by 11 and pinch the ends to seal, Set the seam side down in the prepared loaf pan cover lightly with oiled plastic wrap and set to rise for the last time. This time the dough only needs to get 1/3 larger. Brush the top of the loaf with a little milk or some egg wash for color. Bake loaf for 15 minutes at 425, then lower oven to 375 and bake for 30 minutes more. If you want to test doneness by thermometer, it should register 190-195 when fully cooked. You could also do the sound check by tapping on the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles. It should sound hollow. Cool the bread on a wire rack and slice with a serrated knife.