Honey Wheat Bread

I have always been a tiny bit afraid of yeast breads. Quick breads, no problem. But I had never attempted a recipe for yeast bread. I am happy to say that after this weekend, I have conquered my fear of yeast and now have a whole slew of new recipes I want to try. I am a total carbaholic (and I suspect my husband is too), as we devoured an entire loaf of this in a day. It was a great recipe for my foray into bread-making, as the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. A great beginner bread, and the end result was delicious!

I used butter in place of the shortening, and it came out beautifully. I used my Kitchenaid mixer to help with the kneading, but I also found some great tips on kneading and shaping bread here.

Honey Wheat Bread
from All Recipes

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Ready in: 2 hours 30 minutes
Yields: 24 servings

1 (.25 ounce) package rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F - it took about 30 seconds in my microwave to reach this temperature)
1 (12 fluid oz.) can evaporated milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons butter

Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.

Combine milk, 1/4 cup water, butter, honey, salt, and wheat flour in food processor or bowl (I used my mixer with the dough hook attachment.) Mix in yeast mixture, and let rest 15 minutes. Add white flour, and process until dough forms a ball. Knead dough in mixer for an additional 80 seconds, or mix and knead by hand 10 minutes. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Punch down, and divide the dough in half. Roll out each half, and pound out the bubbles. Form into loaves (see site listed above for hints on shaping your bread), and place in buttered 9 x 5 inch bread pans. Butter the tops of the dough, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area* until doubled; second rise should take about 30 minutes.

Place a small pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tops are dark golden brown. Butter crusts while warm. Slice when cool.

*I searched for recommendations for places in my home where I could find a "warm area", or a place that is about 85 degrees and draft-free. One site recommends using an electric heating pad set on medium; to test the temperature of your heating pad, place the container you plan to let your dough rise in on the pad for 15 minutes with an oven thermometer in the bottom, and adjust heat levels accordingly. I also found a site that suggested turning on the oven for 30 seconds - mine is gas - and testing the temperature with an oven thermometer. This method worked best for me - a quick and easy way to control the environment for your bread to rise in.

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