Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recipe for Whole Wheat Bread

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

After a couple days of 85 degree weather, winter has returned with a Southern vengeance! Forty degrees and raining makes for a miserable day outside, but this kind of weather also always puts me in the mood for baking. Nothing smells better than bread baking in the oven. Well, except maybe chicken roasting....and that's also happening in my oven this afternoon!

Here's my recipe for whole wheat bread. It's a combination of unbleached white flour and whole wheat and is light and firm, sweet and salty....everything homemade bread should be! If you're new to bread baking, give this a try, and practice practice practice till you get it perfect. You will love eating your practice loaves!

Whole Wheat Bread

5 c. unbleached flour + extra for kneading (about 1 cup depending on humidity)
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. + 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 c. skim milk
1/2 c. half & half cream
2/3 c. warm water
1/2 stick unsalted butter, sliced into 6 pieces
6 T. honey
2 envelopes active dry yeast

Combine butter, milk, half & half, and honey in 4 c. glass measuring cup and heat in microwave just until butter starts to melt. Stir till butter is melted, stir in water and set aside. Milk should not be too hot...just warm to the touch. Let it cool a bit if you need to.

Turn the oven on to 200 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn it off.

In bowl of large mixer (I use Kitchenaid Artisan) combine 1/2 unbleached flour, all of whole wheat flour, salt, and yeast. With paddle attachment on mixer and motor running, slowly pour in the warm milk mixture and beat until smooth. Replace paddle attachment with dough hook and gradually add the remainder of the flour, increasing speed as dough gets thick. Add enough reserved flour until dough gathers around the dough hook. The dough will be soft and slightly tacky.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured countertop and knead briefly until you can easily shape it into a ball. Wash your mixing bowl and dry it; grease it lightly with oil and put the ball of bread dough into it. Turn it to lightly coat the top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap and a towel, and set it in the oven to rise till doubled in size, about one hour.

Turn the dough out onto your lightly floured counter and let rest while you lightly butter two 9" x 5" loaf pans.

Divide the dough in half and with your fingers press each half into rectangles about 8 inches wide. Starting at one short end, roll dough up tightly and place into pan, seam side down. Repeat with other half of dough. Lightly brush with oil and cover once again with plastic wrap and set in oven till doubled in size, about 20 - 30 minutes. (If you have a single oven, put the loaves into your empty microwave to rise while your oven preheats.)

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees for at least 20 minutes. Place risen loaves on bottom rack (remove plastic wrap first) and bake for 40-50 minutes. If they start getting too dark for your taste after 30 minutes, lay a foil tent on top to protect them.

Remove from oven and then from pans and check to see that they sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom with your fingernail. A hollow sound means that they are finished, or you can check with an instant read thermometer to see if they have reached 190-195 degrees. You'll get good at this and will be able to tell by the sound. Rub all over with butter, cool on a rack, slice and enjoy!

Bon App├ętit!
Chef Debbie

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