That’s right, you read the title correctly; I am not writing a recipe on muffins or soup! I made three loaves of bread last night and am so happy with the results that I just had to post the recipe on my blog. So here goes!
First Things First
Bread is not hard; it just takes patience. That said, I generally fail at bread making. Well,
not fail, but I don’t succeed either. Baking bread is about waiting for it to rise enough–twice (in this recipe, two and a half times). It’s about stirring enough, adding enough flour, trusting the recipe and your cooking instincts a little more than usual. Okay, so I didn’t really support that first sentence very well. I mean that bread is not hard because so long as you don’t rush the process, and (like any baking recipe) follow the recipe, you’ll be fine. So many people are intimidated by bread baking or think it’s too much work, but I don’t think I feel as proud at making anything else as when I bake a good loaf of bread. NOW, let’s get started.
- 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup honey
- 5 cups bread flour
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
The first part varies from recipe to recipe, but I’ve found that pouring the 1/3 cup honey,
water and yeast together first and waiting 5 minutes really helps with the bread. It lets the yeast come alive, and I just found that the rest of the process goes along more smoothly. As for the water, if you don’t have a thermometer (like me!), just test with a finger. It should be warmer than your finger, but not by much (remember, your body temperature is 98.6 degrees).
After you’ve let the yeast mixture set for 5 minutes, start adding in the 5 cups sifted flour, one cup at a time. Mix thoroughly, and set aside to rise for about 30 minutes. Once the dough’s nice and bubbly, add the first 3 tablespoons melted butter, another 1/3 cup honey and the salt to the dough. Mix, and then slowly add 2 cups flour. The dough is starting to form, but will still be very sticky. At this point, put some flour on the counter, and slowly start adding up to 1 to 1 1/2 more cups of flour, kneading the dough the whole time. You want to get the dough to be firm but still a liiiiiiiittle sticky to the touch, not too much. You just don’t want the dough all dried out.
Now here comes the second waiting period. Put the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a towel and wait until the dough has doubled. This could be about an hour in a warm room to an hour and a half in cooler rooms. This part is one where I’ve heard people complain of how long it takes to make bread. Hint here: you don’t need to stand and stare at the bread while it’s rising. I made squash soup during this time, but so long as you have a timer, clock, alarm on your phone, whatever, you can, drum roll…..do something else!
Okay, enough smartarse comments from me. The dough has risen and now you get to beat it back down, just like life. After you’ve kneaded it, separate the dough into three balls and pour them into three well-oiled bread pans. If you don’t have bread pans, you can also just put the bread balls onto oiled cookie sheets, and they’ll have the benefit of looking fancy. Let them rise (that’s right) one more time until about an inch above the pan or just under doubled in size.
Finally, pop those babies in the oven at 325 degrees and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Take them out, brush their tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool. In about an hour, you’ll have lovely bread for sandwiches, all while loafing or doing stuff around the house. You’ll also enjoy that delicious bread baking aroma that Yankee candles still hasn’t mastered. Enjoy!