Sunday, February 7, 2010

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I love the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven. I love eating the first slice of bread right from the oven even more! Many are afraid of making bread. The task seems very long and daunting. Be afraid no more! Here's a great recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook that is easy to make and very delicious. It's perfect for making sandwiches, eating toast, or just eating it plain.

Here's a recipe:

3 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C honey
1/4 C shortening
3 tsp salt
2 pkgs yeast
2 1/4 C very warm water (120-130 degrees)
3-4 C bread flour (you can use all-purpose)

In mixer bowl beat whole wheat flour, honey, shortening, salt and yeast on low speed until it is well mixed.
Add the warm water and beat on low speed for 1 min, then scrap the sides of the bowl and beat again on medium speed for 1 min.

Now comes the tricky part, add in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition, just until the dough becomes easy to handle and is not too sticky. Depending on the moisture in the air you may not need all the flour, so don't worry if you use less than what is called for, if you keep adding flour the dough will get too dense and dry. Put the dough on a floured surface and kneed it for 5-10min until it is smooth and elastic, it should rebound a little when you press on it.

Grease a large bowl with shortening. Turn the dough around in the bowl to grease all sides of it. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 40-60min or until it has doubled in size. Now, here is a little trick I learned- before you start the bread place a pan filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat it to the lowest setting. Once it is preheated turn it off right away. Once the dough is ready place the bowl on a second rack above the water. The warm oven will help it rise faster and the water will keep it from drying out. With this method you only need to let it rise for 20-30min.

The dough is done rising when you can poke it with your finger and the indention stays. Gently push your fist into the dough to deflate it.

Divide the dough in half and on a floured surface roll each half into an 18x9 rectangle.

To form each loaf roll the dough starting at the 9" side, pulling it tight and gently sealing it after each roll. Then pinch the final edge of the dough to seal the bottom of the loaf, and then fold the ends under to form a nice rounded loaf.

Place each loaf in a greased bread pan and brush the tops with melted butter. Lightly cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise again for 40-50min, or until it has doubled in size. If you use the warm oven trick it will only need 15-25min, then remove them from the oven and let them rise until the oven preheats to 375. Place the loaves in the oven and adjust the rack so the top of the pan is in the center of the oven.

Bake the loaves for 35-45 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown and sound hallow when you tap on them. Remove them from the oven and from the bread pans. Place them on a wire rack and brush with more butter.

The trick to great bread is patience, and practice! The end result is amazingly delicious with butter, jam, or honey. This bread is also great to giveaway as a present to family, friends, or neighbors. We have great neighbors that live across the hall from us who were delighted to get a loaf of bread. Enjoy!!
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