Just 5 years ago, friends and family gathered around Darrell and I in the living room of our old farmhouse as we took our vows. We were amazed at the love that poured out as they showed up with flowers, musical instruments, and dishes to pass (all the things we didn’t plan)! I couldn’t have orchestrated anything better if I had tried.
Being second marriages for both of us, we downplayed the ceremony a bit giving everyone just 6 weeks notice. If anyone minded, they mostly kept quiet about it.
But in the months that followed, I began really sinking in to this new leg of my life’s journey. Standing in the bookstore one afternoon I found myself fingering the cookbooks. I was really just browsing but knew instantly I’d found one I needed to add to my collection when I spotted it: Betty Crocker’s Bridal Edition cookbook.
Just like any new bride would do, I took it home, read recipes as if they were good literature, and started experimenting.
This recipe is from that book and has become one of our staple breads. I thought it would make a great first loaf to share with you! I’ve simplified the directions a little bit. Please remember that I’m still in a learning curve here (but couldn’t help adding in my own two cents anyway). As always, please chime in when you finish reading with your two cents, too!
Honey-Whole Wheat Bread
( It says it’s low fat but when you slather it with butter I’m not so sure! )
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup shortening (I use butter, melted and slightly cooled)
3 teaspoons salt
2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 1/4 cups warm water (hot from the tap works)
3-4 cups all purpose flour (though I often use bread flour)
Mix the whole wheat flour, honey, shortening (butter), salt, water and yeast in a bowl. Beat on low speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute, then medium speed for another minute. (I don’t use the mixer, I use my favorite little plastic mixing thing pictured here and then just let it sit for about 5 minutes to start the gluten development and soften the wheat bran a bit). Afterwards stir in enough all purpose (or bread) flour a cup at a time to make the dough easy to handle.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes (reflect on what you’re working on in your own life at the same time.) You’ll feel the texture of the dough begin to change and get smooth and springy (maybe in the process your life will, too!) The dough should be Post-It note tacky, but not sticky. Resist the urge to over flour it.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size (about 40-60 minutes).
Grease 2 pans (either 8 by 4 or 9 by 5) with shortening or cooking spray. (I always use butter because it’s what we have in the house and it works great..)
Gently deflate the dough (who wants to be punched down?) and divide in half. Flatten each half into a rectangle about 18 by 9 and roll it beginning at the 9 inch side. Press with thumbs to seal after each turn and pinch edge of dough when you finish. Put it seam side down in the pan.
At this point you can just cover it with plastic wrap or brush the loaves lightly with butter first and or add fun stuff to the top (I added pumpkin seeds and millet). Let it rise another 35-50 minutes.
Move the oven rack to low position so that the tops of the pans will be in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until loaves are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire rack and cool. (If you cut hot bread, it’ll be gummy on the inside….try to just enjoy smelling it for a bit!) Enjoy!
More on favorite pans, flour brands, and the technical aspects sprinkled in as our time together marches on! Information, like bread, is best savored (and digested) one crumb at a time!
I’m looking forward to spending more time around the bread bowl with you!