honey wheat bread

I had every intention of exploring the local cuisine of Houston on my trip last week. I left behind the remnants of Minnesota’s first snow, dreaming of fresh salsa, spicy chili, and sticky barbecue. As the days of the conference flew past, though, and I and my fellow conferencees consumed countless boxed lunches and buffet breakfasts, I lost hope that I would experience the authentic regional cuisine of Houston.

While I tasted no salsa, no chili, and no barbecue, my story has a happy culinary end.

One warm evening after an exhausting day of bookselling in the BigTent store, I saw an entire six blocks of downtown Houston walking to the Strip House for a fantastic dinner with a handful of conferencees. We shared decadent sides like Black Truffle Cream Spinach and Goose Fat Potatoes. I had the buttery red snapper, and managed to earn the nickname “Profiterole” over countless glasses of wine. It was a lovely evening.

I returned home late Saturday night to a stern lecture from Professor Meowington, who was very cross about being left home alone for five days in a row. I slept in my very own bed, and woke up to the last of the Honey Wheat Bread in the freezer for my first breakfast home.

This slightly sweet, dense wheat bread, toasted and slathered in strawberry jam, made a perfect welcome home breakfast treat.

The recipe is by Ron Miller, and it’s another from my new favorite cookbook, Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club. I cut the recipe down to make one loaf rather than three, but I made no other changes, resisting the temptation to add a bit more oil (the recipe calls for one teaspoon oil for three loaves!). Even with so little oil, this bread is surprisingly moist.

Recipe below the fold

Honey Wheat Bread
Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club¹

The overnight polish adds depth to the flavor of this wheat bread, and the cracked wheat adds texture. It provides a tasty foundation for whatever comes home from the farmers’ market.

MAKES 3 LOAVES

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cracked wheat flour
4 to 5 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt

The night before baking, make a poolish by combining yeast, 2 cups water, and 2 cups whole wheat flour in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in a draft-free place.

The next day, combine poolish, honey, oil, and remaining 1 cup of water in a large bowl. Add whole wheat flour and cracked wheat flour. Then add bread flour 1 cup at a time until dough forms a ball. Add salt, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, adding additional flour as needed. Place in a floured bowl, turning to coat top, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down and knead to deflate bubbles, and cover and let rise, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375⁰.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, kneading to deflate, and divide into 3 pieces. Shape into loaves, and place in lightly greased bread pans. Cover with a cloth, and let rise until just doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350⁰, and bake for 20 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom. Turn out of pans, and cool on wire racks.

1. Ron Miller, “Honey Wheat Bread,” in Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club, ed. Kim Ode (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006), 33-34.
Linked to: Big Bear’s Wife, Eat at Home
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