>> Saturday, September 29, 2012
When I was a kid, my mom and I used to bake bread together often, using the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. In fact, one summer we baked so much bread that I could see my arm muscles developing from the kneading. I bet we didn't buy a single loaf that year. These are wonderful memories for us.
Baking bread is much more fun if you have some friends to help you. Bread-baking takes time, but the dough-rising periods are great times to sit back with a cup of coffee or tea and have a good chat. This classic recipe comes from my friend Becky, who bakes every week.
One step in the process, towards the end, is where Becky rolled out the twice-risen dough with a rolling pin. She then began to roll up the dough jelly-roll style before putting it into the loaf pans. We asked her why she did it that way, and she said, "I don't know. That's just the way my mom taught me."
Later, when I sliced into my finished loaf, I found that the rolling pin pressed down the large air bubbles, and the resulting loaf had tiny, evenly-spaced bubbles and a hint of a spiral pattern towards the center of the loaf. Her mother is a wise woman.
3 cups warm water (110-112 degrees)
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast from a jar
2/3 cup honey
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups white flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
DirectionsIn a mixing bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Stir in the wheat flour until well combined. Allow to rest for 30 minutes, until the mixture has large bubbles forming on the surface.
Stir in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups of the white flour. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and knead until the dough is sticky to touch and but does not stick to the flat surface, using the rest of the white flour as needed.
Grease a bowl that is at least twice as large as the volume of dough. Place the dough in the greased bowl, and then turn it over to coat the other side of the dough. Cover with a damp dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Sprinkle a flat surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out half of the dough into an 8x12 rectangle. Staring at one of the short ends, roll up the dough jelly-roll style, tucking in the sides occasionally, and pinching the end shut. Place it in a greased 8x4x2 loaf pan. Repeat with the other loaf.
Cover the loaves with a damp dishtowel and allow to rise until dough has doubled - about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the towel and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Turn out of the pans and cool on a baking rack. For best results, slice it at room temperature.
Makes 2 hearty loaves.