Honey Wheat Bread – Our favorite!

Hello everyone, sorry it’s taken me so long to get this recipe posted.  As the old farm adage goes, we’ve been making hay while the sun shines 🙂  I have been trying to get this blog written for 4 days…LOL.

I thought I would share the recipe for my family’s favorite honey wheat bread.  It will make 2 large loaves. This is really easy to make, even if you’ve never made bread before.  No, I don’t use a bread machine….I gave it up in favor of my Kitchen Aid mixer and doing things the traditional way.  It took a few tries to figure out exactly how to get MY loaf to look like a professional baker’s loaf, mind you, but it’s not that hard.  Really.  It’s all in how you proof your yeast and set the bread out to rise.

Okay, here are the ingredients you will need for the bread:

2 1/2 cups lukewarm water    2 TBSP white or brown sugar
2 tablespoon active dry yeast    2 1/2 tsp salt (Kosher is best)
4 1/2 cups bread flour    4 TBSP (1/4 cup) light olive oil
2 cup whole wheat flour    4 TBSP (1/4 cup) honey
8 tsp (2 2/3 TBSP) vital wheat gluten    2 TBSP cane molasses

First off, turn your oven on to its lowest baking temperature.  For mine that is 170 degrees.  Let it preheat.

So, how do you proof yeast anyway?  Well, there are lots of theories on that and I’ve tried a few….LOL.  But this is what works for me:

You need a large bowl or at minimum a 4 cup glass measure.

2 ½ cups of warm water – now this is the trick – let the tap water run until it is as hot as it gets.  Fill your bowl with the 2 ½ cups of hot water.  Let it sit for a minute while you get your yeast and your sugar ready.

2 TBSP of packed brown sugar or white sugar, your preference.

2 TBSP of active dry yeast

Now, test your water with your finger tip, if it feels just warm, you are good to go.  If it gets too cool, your yeast won’t bloom.  If it stays too hot, you will kill your yeast.  Argh.  Add your yeast and sugar to the warm water and whisk briskly for about 30 secs or so, make sure the yeast and the sugar have dissolved.   This is what your bowl of proofing yeast will look like at the start:

Put the bowl of proofing yeast aside while you get your other ingredients ready, about 10 minutes.

Dough Hook

I have a Kitchen Aide mixer with a dough hook on it.  If you have one of those, please go drag it out and use it.  Or any other mixer with a dough hook.  Or you can use your bread machine for the kneading part of our program.  (Anytime I can let a machine do it……I do.)  If you use a bread machine please follow the directions as to how to add the ingredients to your pan, then select the dough cycle.  Once it has completed kneading, follow the rest of the steps as listed below.

Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of your mixer.  I use the whisk attachment to mix them together or you can use a spoon.

**Note ~ I use Kosher salt for baking/cooking because I have found that it seems to cook up better, have better flavor than regular table salt.

***2nd Note ~ I sometimes get creative and substitute a cup of the bread flour with another grain flour, most often Spelt.  Haven’t heard of Spelt?  ***I’ll give you the low down on Spelt after we’ve made our bread.

Now gather your wet ingredients (Molasses, honey, oil) and measure them out into a glass 1 cup measuring cup.  Stir them together as best you can ~ you know oil and water don’t mix?  Well, oil and molasses and honey don’t mix well either….LOL.

NOW, finally….back to your proofing bowl of yeast.  WOW…how cool is that?  This is called a yeast bloom.  When you have proofed your yeast correctly you will have about an inch or so of foam on top of the liquid.  Isn’t that pretty?  I just love it when my yeast blooms  🙂

Look at all that foam!! Perfectly blooming yeast

Next step….add the honey, molasses, oil mixture directly into the yeast and whisk it briskly again so that the honey and molasses dissolve.

You should already have your mixer set up with the bowl of dry ingredients and the dough hook attached.  Start the mixer on the slowest speed and gradually add the yeast mixture.  I use a spatula to make sure that the flour stays off the walls of the bowl and it all mixes in well.  I lock the bowl and increase the speed up a notch and let the dough hook do my kneading for the next 5 min or so.

Too Sticky

The dough will be sticky, stickier than most.  However, that being said we don’t want it to be toooo sticky.  So, I usually set aside about ½ cup of bread flour and gradually add just a little at a time to the dough as it is being kneaded, I rarely use the whole half cup.  You will get the hang of how much to add.  Just remember, the dough should still be fairly sticky when you are finished kneading.

Perfect dough

While you are letting the dough knead get a very large mixing bowl ready for your bread dough to do its first rising in ~ I use a stainless steel bowl that is about 12 inches across and 7 inches deep.  Your dough will rise to the top of a bowl that size.  I usually put the bowl in the oven for a minute to let it warm up.  Once it has warmed up, drizzle about a TBSP of olive oil in the bowl and use your fingers to fully coat the inside of the bowl.

Take the dough ball and place it into the oil coated bowl.  Tip:  The dough can be hard to get out of the mixing bowl so I coat my hand with olive oil and it makes it easier to get it to release from the bowl.  Knead dough just a bit and form it into a ball, place the ball into the oiled bowl.  Turn the dough ball in the bowl so that it is coated in olive oil and then cover the bowl with a damp towel.  Now, if your kitchen is warm enough or you have a nice sunny spot to sit the bowl in for the dough to rise, just let it rise that way.  I usually have to put mine in the warm (preheated to 170) oven.

Allow to rise for 1 hour

If you put it in a warm oven to rise be careful that it’s not too warm or you will kill the yeast and your bread won’t rise.  I learned this the hard way….LOL.  Several loaves later I figured out what I was doing wrong.  Anyhoo….Cover you’re your bowl and place it in the warm oven.  I have found that if I turn the oven off, it cools down too quick and the bread won’t rise well.  Sooooo, I leave the oven on but open the oven door a little to let the intense heat out.  Now that it’s heading into summer I am hoping I can skip this step and just let it rise in the sun.

You should let your bread dough rise in the bowl for about an hour or until it doubles in size.

While your dough is rising you need to get your loaf pans ready or if you wish you can simply make loaves and place them on a baking sheet to rise.  If you are like me though, the bread will be used for sandwiches, etc so I use the loaf pans.  My pans are 9 x 5 inches.  There are some pans that are 9 x 4 and those are too small for these loaves.  Grease and flour your pans, set aside.

The dough has risen!

When your dough is ready, punch it down in the bowl and turn it out onto a floured surface.  Knead just a little bit.  Add a little flour to the bread as your are kneading it for ease.  Flatten the dough ball out onto the counter so that you can divide it easily into two pieces.

sigh...I think I am going to get a hand model next time....LOL

Divide the dough in half

I use a pastry knife to divide it into two equal halves….hahahaha.  I never get them equal….LOL.  Take each half and roll them up into oblong loaves.

Some day I will get them equal...maybe

Place the loaves into the pans and then put the pans back into the warm oven. (Follow same procedure for rising as before, not too hot)  No need to cover the pans, however.  I usually spritz the tops of the loaves with water during the rising process so they don’t get too crusty before cooking.  Again, let the loaves rise for about an hour, the dough will top out over the edges of the pans.

Once your loaves have risen fully, leave them in the oven but increase the temp to 350 degrees and close the door.  Be sure to spritz them with water again one last time.  Allow them to bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30-35 minutes or golden brown.

Ready to bake (this picture sucks, I apologize ~ it's the lighting) Problem is, if you move the pans for the "perfect picture" you risk having the bread fall.

Lots of folks tap on the bread to check for doneness ~ it is supposed to sound hollow when fully baked.  Sigh….I can never figure this out, Lady bless you if you can!

My fool proof TIP:  If you pick the pan up and the loaf shakes loose in the pan, it’s DONE.  Unless you have an old pan that sticks no matter what you do.  My pans are from Wally World, the $4 variety and they work just great.  No need for fancy bakeware.

Once I take the bread out of the oven I set it onto a cooling rack, you can leave it in the pans or take it out immediately, your choice.  I take mine out immediately ~ I don’t know about you, but I HAVE to have a slice of fresh warm bread as soon as it comes from the oven.  Once I have it out of the pans, I take a large chunk of real butter and rub it over the tops of the loaves before slicing.   YUM!!!

Fresh from the oven....ahhhh nothing beats the smell of fresh bread

Perfect texture....YUM!

Well, so there you have it.  My favorite honey wheat bread.  The texture of this bread is so good….light and airy, moist and it really doesn’t dry out either unless you’ve added too much flour during the kneading process.  We love it and it really is easy to make.  My boys don’t even want me to buy store bought bread anymore, they prefer the homemade.  Once you get the hang of making it, it becomes less time intensive and less of a chore.  It’s a joy to make your own bread and see the expression on folk’s faces when they taste a little slice of homemade heaven.

I really hope ya’ll will try this out and please let me know what you think!  The next recipe will be for my Herb bread, your house will smell like an Italian restaurant!

Love, hugs and blessings to everyone!

Storm

****SPELT FLOUR ~ Spelt is an ancient grain, similar to wheat.   It has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.  Spelt is an incredibly nutritious flour and it has been said that eating a serving of it a day is like eating an apple…LOL.  Lot’s of great health benefits.  It is higher in Niacin (Vitamin B3) than wheat.  It is also higher in protein than wheat.  It has higher amounts of minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. These minerals are naturally high in the bran of the spelt grain. Our bodies need these micronutrients to perform a variety of functions and to support healthy nervous, cardiovascular, skeletal and immune systems.  While it does contain gluten, it has a higher water solubility making it easier to digest for folks with problems with wheat – however, consult your physician if you would like to try spelt and have celiac disease.

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2 responses to “Honey Wheat Bread – Our favorite!

  1. omg….that bread is calling my name! It looks wonderful….now, where did I put my honey butter??? Going under my saved file sistah…

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