Since I first developed my passion for baking, I have always praised those who toy with yeast and pull out a nicely risen loaf of bread from the oven. Yeast, as Anh reminded me a couple of nights ago when I suggested baking sour dough bread, is extremely challenging to work with. Determined to expand my baking from just cookies and cakes to whole loaves of bread, I found a honey whole-wheat recipe that looked fairly simple for an amateur like me. Oh, boy! I found myself staring through my glass mixing bowl and counting the slow ticks of the clock, frustrated at the slow rise of the dough. Forty minutes into its first rise, the dough appeared to have risen, at the most, half a centimeter. With my impatience and increasing excitement to pop the bread into the oven, I uncovered the dough and continued the recipe more than thirty minutes before I should have. EEK… Bad idea. Although the dough almost doubled in size in its second rise, during which I left the house to prevent my impatience from taking over, the resulting loaves of bread seemed a little dense. I was disappointed in the lack of “fluffy” texture, most likely a result of my impulsive actions, but I was proud to have finally furthered my knowledge and experience in baking.
Williams Sonoma’s Honey Whole Wheat Bread
2 packages (5 tsp.) active dry yeast
2 cups whole milk heated to warm
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
6 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tsp. sea salt
6 tsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Dissolve the yeast in the milk and let stand until foamy. Stir in the honey and eggs. Add the flour, salt, and butter and stir until a rough mass forms. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Kead until it is smooth and elastic, dusting the work surface with only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in size (about 1.5-2 hours). Butter two loaf pans. Punch down the dough and scrape it out onto a clean work surface. Cut it in half, flattening each half with the heel of your hand. Roll the bottom third up onto itself and seal it by pushing it gently with the heel of your hand. Continue rolling and sealing the dough until you have an oval log. Place the log, seam side down, in the load pans. Press on them to flatten them evenly into the pans. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let the loaves rise in a warm spot until they double in size (45-60 minutes). Dust the top of the loaves with whole-wheat flour (sprinkle on oats if you’d like) and bake at 375 F until they sound hollow when they are tapped (35-40 minutes). Remove the loaves from the pans and let cool completely before slicing.
The bread seemed a little dull in taste, but a bit of butter or jam would make this honey whole wheat bread a delicious (and somewhat healthy) breakfast choice.