Friday, August 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread

When I was little, my mom baked our bread. True story.
A while back one of my friends was looking for a bread recipe, and I sent her this one, and now she uses it to make her own bread too! I've included Mom's side notes from those instructions. This makes 3 or 4 loaves, depending how you divide the dough.

2 T yeast (regular, not rapid-rise)
3 c warm water or milk
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c honey
2 t salt
1 egg
9 c whole wheat flour

Combine yeast and warm water. (Baby-bottle warm is the standard.) Add oil, honey, salt, and egg, and blend. Add 4 cups flour and beat. Gradually add another 4 cups flour, stirring with a sturdy wooden spoon. (Gluten strands will form and dough will begin to form into a ball, separating from the sides of the bowl.) Using about 1 cup of flour, knead the dough. (Kneading bread is like kneading clay: push firmly with the heels of your hands; fold dough  in half; give a quarter turn; repeat for a long time. You are aligning the gluten strands that will make the bread rise well. It's ready when you have a nicely formed ball and it springs back when you poke a finger into it.)

Oil a LARGE clean bowl.  Turn the dough over in the oil to get a thin coating on it. Raise dough once in bowl, one hour (covered in a warm, draft-free place). Punch down, knead very briefly. Divide into three or four loaves and shape. Make a few shallow cuts on the top of each loaf. Raise in oiled or buttered bread pans, until 1/2-1 inch above rim of pan. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees and then turn down the oven to 350 for another 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes or so in the pans, then remove to cooling racks.