My public service for the week —

Which does not involve writing or books but does involve (you can probably see this coming) BAKING!

Because it has occurred to me that my mother’s recipe for 100% whole wheat bread is just way, way better than any other recipe for 100% whole wheat bread I have ever tasted. So I will share it with you, in case you too were under the impression that a 100% whole wheat loaf just has to be dense, heavy, and off-flavored.

I don’t know why this recipe works so well, by the way. Orange juice is often added to whole wheat bread to prevent the off-flavor that you get with ordinary whole wheat flour, especially if it’s gone stale, and I certainly suggest you try replacing some of the liquid with orange juice in other whole-wheat recipes. But this recipe doesn’t need that. And white whole wheat never tastes “off”, but this recipe uses ordinary whole wheat, so that’s not it. Maybe it has EXACTLY the right amount of honey?

Anyway, here it is:

Honey Whole-Wheat Bread

4 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast (my mother uses active dry yeast)
1/3 C honey
1/4 C butter or margarine (my mother always uses margarine)
2 tsp salt
2 1/4 C warm water
5 to 5 1/2 C whole-wheat flour

My mother’s directions: put everything in the bread machine, select “whole wheat” and hit go.

I use a bread machine, too. But if you’re into making your own bread, then hey, you already know how! Onward!

But, briefly: stir everything together, starting with four cups of flour. Knead, adding flour as you go, for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and not tacky. Place in oiled bowl, cover, place in a warm location, and let rise an hour or until an indentation you make with your thumb stays indented. Shape into two loaves, place in two oiled loaf pans, cover again, let rise another hour, until dough has about doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool a few minutes in pans, turn out onto racks, and cool completely before cutting.

This is an excellent bread for sandwiches or toast. My mother hardly ever makes any other kind of bread now, except for things like cinnamon rolls.

Okay, and now, here is my VERY FAVORITE BROWNIE RECIPE FOR POTLUCKS. I made these last weekend for a potluck, so I had the recipe pulled out.

There’re lots of good brownie recipes, right? But this one is easy and reliable, looks pretty, tastes great, has lots of kid-appeal, and tends to work both for people who like fudgy and people who like cakey brownies. It makes a moist cakey type of brownie, btw, just so you know what to expect.

Plus, these brownies freeze really well. In fact, they’re quite good directly out of the freezer, though if you have the patience, they’re better at room temperature. One warning, though: don’t take these to an OUTDOOR potluck in JULY, because the middle layer will melt and the tops will slide off. Naturally I am too clever to discover this by personal experience.

Chocolate Crunch Brownies

1 C butter
2 C sugar
4 eggs
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 C flour
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

7 oz jar marshmallow creme

1 C peanut butter, any kind
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 C crisp rice cereal

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Stir in cocoa, flour, vanilla, and salt. Spread in 13 x 9 inch pan that has been oiled or lined with foil (and then the foil greased). Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean or nearly clean. Cool completely in pan.

Spread marshmallow creme over brownie layer.

Melt peanut butter and chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring frequently. Stir until smooth. Stir in crisp rice cereal. Spread over marshmallow layer. Chill.

Lift brownies out of pan with foil and slice into small brownies, or cut in pan — if you didn’t use foil, they will still cut and lift out easily if they are cold. Arrange on nice plate. Serve to widespread enthusiastic acclaim.

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3 thoughts on “My public service for the week —”

  1. Umm… Where’s the OJ in the recipe?

    I switched to white whole wheat flour years ago and have stayed with it as my family prefers the flavor. I also have never put in OJ (although any way to use up the oranges is good, so I will try it next baking time), I usually use buttermilk or kefir, or yogurt… any of the sour dairy products makes a good loaf. And mix honey and maple syrup for the sweetener.

    One year – we had a LOT of tomatoes – I threw in some really ripe tomatoes, as well as cocoa. The bread was great! I forget why I used the cocoa, except I’d been experimenting with dark ryes, which use it.

    Do you really get two loaves out of that recipe? My two loaf recipe uses about 7 cups of flour for two baked in 9″ pans.

    Never got into bread machines although I tried several times when I spent about 18 months disabled. The bread never tasted quite right, though, so I went back to using the mixer as soon as I could.

  2. edit: never mind. I see (now) you’re saying THIS recipe doesn’t require it, most do.

  3. Actually I make half that recipe and turn it into rolls; Mom makes half and lets the bread machine turn it into one loaf. I’m happy with my bread machine — I have trouble kneading, that downward-pressing motion is not good for my neck and shoulder. But I almost always take the dough out and shape it into rolls because I just like rolls better than slices for sandwiches.

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