I never learned to eat white bread when I was growing up. My mom only bought whole wheat breads for our lunchbox sandwiches when my sister and I were in school, and I grew to just love the flavor of whole wheat. As a matter of fact, the only time I remember having regular sliced white bread was at my aunt's house in Colombia. She always bought Bimbo brand bread, and while I loved it, I wasn't sure what I loved more, the white bread or the the cute little white bear on the packaging! Regardless, to this day, whole wheat and multigrain breads are my breads of choice, whether it's for making a sandwich or to enjoy for breakfast with a little salted butter and fruit preserves. Hearty whole grain breads are so satisfying and filling, not to mention delicious!
I'm still kind of new at baking with yeast. There's a couple things that I'm pretty comfortable with making, like pretzels and cinnamon rolls, but I've always found baking bread to be a little more challenging for some reason. I can't exactly explain why, but bread is something that intimidates me just a bit. This year, I definitely want to challenge myself some more, and really learn to work with yeast and explore bread making further. I think it'll be fun, and bread is the one thing I know I can make in abundance that won't go to waste in my house. I usually have to think twice before I decide to make a batch of cupcakes or cookies, because I need to figure out if I can actually distribute them to people so that they all get eaten and won't go to waste, but I don't think that I will ever have that problem with bread. My dad is a fiend for bread, and loves trying all new kinds of breads. He would happily eat bread and coffee or hot chocolate for every meal, so at least I can know that if I decide to experiment with baking bread, it'll definitely be appreciated and eaten!
This recipe for honey whole wheat bread was perfectly simple to put together. It required only a few simple ingredients that I already happened to have in my kitchen pantry, and I'm sure are ingredients that most people would also have on stock at all times. I decided to use white whole wheat flour instead of regular whole wheat flour, which gave the bread a slightly more mild flavor to it, but you could certainly use regular whole wheat flour if you want a more hearty flavor. This particular whole wheat loaf is perfect for breakfast, in my opinion, because it is slightly sweetened from both the honey and the use of milk. I used 2% milk, rather than whole, which ended up being fine. If you would prefer to use this whole wheat bread for making sandwiches, or would simply like a loaf that's a little less sweet, you could substitute the milk in the recipe for water, and use half the honey indicated in the recipe.
Preparing a loaf of whole wheat bread is both incredibly simple and rewarding. I can't think of too many things that are much better than the smell of bread as it bakes in the oven. I'm normally more into baking cookies, brownies, and cakes, but there's just something about the smell of bread as it bakes that is so satisfying, and I just love it. It's probably my favorite part about making bread! Tearing off a slice of warm bread and spreading a little salted butter on top is also one of my favorite things about baking bread at home, and it turns out, it can actually be pretty easy! This dough was mixed up in no time at all, and I was able to get other things accomplished (like cleaning up my kitchen) during the rising times, so it was great! Shaping the dough into the oval logs for the loaf pans was simple as could be, and in no time at all, I had a kitchen that smelled of perfectly delicious whole wheat bread. I was in pure heaven!
Honey whole wheat bread is satisfying and delicious, and is a great way to include more whole grains in your diet. A nice thick slice, served warm, is a perfect way to start off your day. Enjoy!
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
recipe from Williams Sonoma
2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups milk, heated to warm (105-115 degrees F)
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs, at room temperature
6 cups white whole wheat flour, plus extra for kneading and dusting
2 teaspoons sea salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
To begin, in the bowl of a standard electric mixer, dissolve the yeast in the milk, and let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. With a whisk, add in the honey and the eggs. Add the white whole wheat flour, sea salt, and butter, and place the mixer bowl back on the mixer. Attach the dough hook to the mixer, and begin to knead on low speed. Add a little more flour as needed to help the dough come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixer, shape it into a ball, and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise undisturbed in a warm, draft-free spot until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2-2 hours.
Butter 2 9x5-inch loaf pans.
Punch down the dough and remove it from the bowl onto a clean work surface. Divide the dough in half with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. For each half, begin to work the dough with the heel of your hand, and evenly flatten it. Roll the bottom third of the dough up over itself, and then begin to seal the dough together by flattening it with the heel of your hand. Continue to fold the bottom third and seal it until you have an oval shaped log (this took me about two additional folds).
Place the log, seam side down, into the prepared loaf pans. Gently press down on the logs to flatten them evenly inside the pans. Cover the loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel, and allow them to rise once more in a warm and draft-free spot for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they have doubled in size.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat it to 375 degrees F. Lightly dust the tops of each loaf with a little more whole wheat flour. Bake the loaves until the tops are a golden brown color and sound hollow when tapped on top, about 35 minutes. Be careful not to overbake the loaves! Carefully remove the loaves from the pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!
Makes 2 9x5-inch loaves