The staff of life —

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for whole wheat bread with you all for a while, in case you make your own bread. I don’t always make my own, actually, but when I buy bread I generally buy it from a particular woman at the local farmer’s market. Of course it’s a lot cheaper to make your own, but sometimes you just don’t want to bother, and in that case it’s good to be friendly with people at the farmer’s market, I find.

Personally, I have never liked whole wheat bread one bit. I never buy or use regular whole wheat flour (I like white whole wheat). The exception is this recipe that has become my mother’s standard go-to sandwich bread. It has a good, light texture and somehow completely lacks the unpleasant (imo) whole wheat taste, even when you are using ordinary whole wheat flour rather than white whole wheat. I’m sure there are many similar recipes out there, but somehow this one seems to work better and more reliably than any other recipe, which is why it’s become my mother’s standard. Both my mother and I cheat when making bread, as you will see from the recipe below:

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp butter or margarine (my mother uses margarine, I use butter)
1 tsp salt
1 C warm water
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour

Place all ingredients in your handy bread machine and set for dough. Hit go. You see, I said we cheat when making bread. As you may know, when using a machine, you must check several times in the first minutes of mixing and kneading, adding a bit of water or flour as necessary, because all kinds of things make it necessary to tweak proportions when making bread.

An hour and a half later, when the dough machine beeps, take the dough out, shape it into a loaf, and put it in a greased loaf pan. Cover the pan and set in a warmish place to rise for an hour or so, until roughly doubled. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees during the last bit of the rising time. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the loaf looks golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool a few minutes in the pan, turn onto a rack, and cool completely before slicing. Unless you can’t bear the wait. Then slice a bit off the loaf while warm and enjoy with softened honey butter. (Just a suggestion.)

Okay, there you go.

Now, if your mother just gave you bread for sandwiches, or if you bought some from the nice lady at the farmer’s market, then you have time to make other kinds of bread yourself. I suggest this kind:

Icebox Butterhorns

2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
1 C warm milk
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 C sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 C bread flour OR 3 1/4 C all-purpose flour + 1 Tbsp vital glutan OR whatever kind of flour you like

Put all the ingredients in a bread machine and set to dough. Adjust dough during the mixing and kneading stage until you get a soft, sticky dough. Interrupt the kneading cycle and remove the dough from the machine (I find about 20 minutes kneading in the machine is fine). If you are not using a machine, then just combine till you get a soft, sticky dough and don’t knead extensively.

Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, put the dough on an oiled counter and roll out to a 12 inch circle. Cut the circle into 12 wedges (I use a pastry cutter). Roll up each wedge starting from the wide end. Pinch the point gently into the roll so the butterhorn won’t unroll during baking (this happened to some of mine last time). Place on baking sheets and let rise about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on racks. Serve with eggs for breakfast, with soup for lunch, or as dinner rolls. Or just eat as a snack.

There is no obvious reason why you couldn’t spread the wedges with, oh, a pecan and honey filling, or a walnut filling, or jam, or nutella, or whatever you like before you roll up the butterhorns. I will try something of the kind next time I make them. Which will be soon, because these were really good and quite easy.

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2 thoughts on “The staff of life —”

  1. Butter, definitely, and white whole wheat flour. I also use 1/2 honey & 1/2 maple syrup. Never made so little – is this designed for an 8″ loaf pan? Using something with some acid, like buttermilk or orange juice makes a nice crumb & flavor, too.

  2. Yes, it’s half the actual recipe, because the bread machines are a bit on the small size for normal two-loaf recipes. I agree that orange juice is normally a good idea in whole wheat recipes; it compensates for the bitterness that sometimes comes through in pure whole wheat bread.

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