A kitchen filled with the aroma of fresh-baked bread creates a comforting, cozy atmosphere any time of year. The baking of bread remains one of our oldest cooking traditions and is really not as complicated as you might think. If you've never tried baking your own whole wheat bread, give it a try at least once and you may find yourself only reluctantly going back to store-bought.
Things You'll Need
- 3½ to 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup of honey
- 2 tsp of sugar
- 1¼ tsp of salt
- Mixing bowl
- Cooking thermometer
- Loaf pans
Warm milk, honey, water and salt in a small saucepan until it reaches 110 degrees. Use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature.
Dissolve yeast and sugar in two tbsp. of lukewarm water, between 110 and 120 degrees F. If the water is too cold, the yeast will not grow; too hot and you'll kill the active bacteria.
Place just 2 cups of the whole wheat flour, yeast mixture and warmed milk and honey in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. You can do this by hand of course, but it will take a little bit longer.
Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and put it on a floured cutting board or counter. Knead the dough, continually turning it over. Add the remaining cup and a half of flour as you go. You may not need all the extra flour. When the dough can hold its shape but still has some elasticity, it is ready to sit and rise.
Roll the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a cloth and place in a warm place. If you have a gas oven with a pilot light, this can make an ideal spot (make sure the oven isn't on). The top of the refrigerator can also make a good rising place.
Punch the dough down when it doubles in size and let it rest another 10 to 15 minutes.
Separate the dough into two sections and place into lightly greased loaf pans. You can also just place one or two rounded dough balls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet for a round loaf of bread.
Place the shaped dough back in a warm location, covered, until it has risen once again to double its original size.
Bake the bread in a 375 degree F. oven for about 40 minutes. The bread will be finished when you can tap on the crust and hear a hollow sound.
Tips & Warnings
- Brush the top of the bread with a egg and water mixture to help form the crust and create a golden brown color. Add sesame seeds or rolled oats to the top of the bread before baking for added nutrition and decor.
- Photo Credit Agatha Brown for morguefile.com
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