The Staff of Life (Honey Whole Wheat Bread)

This morning I am making bread. Not white balloon bread, devoid of nutrients, but real, nutrient dense, 100% whole wheat bread. The kind you’d bring home to meet your mama.  It’s that good.

I got this recipe from Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.  I made it for the first time this past week, thinking the recipe would need “tweaking,” since it has no white flour at all and doesn’t call for any conditioner like Vital Wheat Gluten or anything.  However, it turned out perfect, and I couldn’t wait to make it again!  I’m still not up and running with pictures here yet, but if you want to see some, go to Heavenly Homemakers–she even has a couple great videos on kneading and shaping.  And yes, I’ve pretty much copied her recipe word for word, except for adding a few notes of my own here and there.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

6 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1 ¾ cups warm water, divided
1/3 cup honey
1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
1 t.  sea salt
3 T. melted butter

Mix 3 cups of whole wheat flour with 1 ½ cups of warm water in a large glass bowl.  (Since I use my KitchenAid for kneading, I mixed it right in that bowl.) Allow this to sit for about 30 minutes.  (Laura said this will break down the gluten and help the bread to rise better.)

In a small bowl mix together ¼ cup water, 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast and 1/3 cup honey.  Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and mixture becomes bubbly.

In the meantime, melt 3 Tablespoons butter in a small sauce pan.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  You don’t want the hot butter to kill the yeast.

Add 1 teaspoon salt, melted butter and yeast mixture to the flour and water mixture.  Gradually add the remaining three cups of flour and stir well.  As the dough becomes harder to stir, pour it out onto a clean counter and begin to knead the dough.  (How long to knead?  Some say 10 minutes; I’ve never timed my kneading.  I doubt I’ve ever kneaded dough that long, especially in the KitchenAid.  You want that gluten to develop and when you stick your finger in the dough, the imprint should remain.  Or if you take a tiny piece of dough and can  stretch it into a thin sheet without breaking, it’s ready.)

Once you’ve kneaded your dough, place it in a bowl to rise.  Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rise for at least one hour or until it has risen to twice  it’s starting size.  While you’re waiting for your dough to rise, get your bread pans buttered.  You can also do some laundry, wash some dishes, or clean the bread dough out from under your fingernails.

When the dough is doubled, give the raised dough a nice punch.  Using a floured hand, pull the dough out of the bowl onto the counter.  Knead for three or four minutes until the air bubbles are all gone.  I do this part a little differently, but Laura’s method will work perfectly too!

Shape into 2 loaves and put into the pans. Cover and allow 30 minutes to one hour to rise again.  They should double in size, but the rising should happen more quickly this time because the yeast knows what to do by now.

Bake the bread uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when you thump the top of it.

Allow the bread to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove it to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Talk about love, this bread will knock their socks off!!!

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