There is nothing like homemade bread. Even though it doesn’t take too much time, it does take a little longer than buying a loaf from your local bakery. Let’s face it. Waiting for yeast to warm up, kneading dough, watching dough rise, then rolling out dough is not something you can do every week night. It’s more like a lazy Sunday morning activity when you have a couple of hours to spare and jam awaiting something to be spread on. Following IFBC this year, the mention of Jennifer Reese’s book “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter” during one of the panels remained at top of mind. The title says it all–some things are worth the time to make, while others are worth the cost and time saved to buy them. With no reason for further excuses, a couple of loaves of homemade bread were in and out of the oven before the morning was over.
Was it worth it? Yes, most definitely. The cost to make two loaves of bread, admittedly with several pantry items most people keep on hand, is equivalent to or less expensive than purchasing two loaves of bread from the grocery store or your local baker. Don’t worry about halfing the recipe either. Tightly wrap and freeze the second loaf, then thaw when you’re ready to munch. Or allow it to go stale just a bit and cut it up for rustic croutons or bread pudding or slice it for French toast. If you’re at a loss for ideas, toast and grind the bread for homemade breadcrumbs. You’ve already created three or four new uses for what was just one loaf of bread. Plus, the taste, texture and aroma of homemade bread cannot be beat. For that reason alone, it is worth the time and money to make it yourself.
For this loaf, Shirley J’s Dough Enhancer was put to the test. A jar was sent in the mail, and it seemed like the perfect time to put it to use. The product claims to increase gluten structure of bread made with whole wheat flour, so your slices are clean and pretty. It goes in after the oil but before the water, and you’ll need about 1 tablespoon for every 6 cups of whole wheat flour. It was very tricky to know when exactly to add the dough enhancer to this recipe and also if it would work with a recipe made of a combination of flours. In the spirit of experimentation, it was full speed ahead anyways. The bread’s structure was definitely much more in tact and just a tiny bit fluffier than one of the last wheat loaves featured on this site. It was also lighter in color, although that may not be any result of the dough enhancer. Obviously, one recipe test won’t be very definitive, so we’ll have to try it again. Until then, enjoy testing your own homemade wheat bread.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread – Makes 2 loaves (Adapted from Betty Crocker)
2 packages regular active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Shirley J Dough Enhancer (optional)
2 1/2 cups very warm water (120°F to 130°F)
4 1/2 whole wheat flour
2 3/4 – 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer (use the paddle attachment), dissolve the yeast with the 1/4 cup warm water, then add the honey, butter, salt, Shirley J Dough Enhancer (if using), 2 1/2 cups of very warm water and 3 cups of the whole wheat flour. Beat with electric mixer on low for about a minute, then turn the speed up to medium and beat for another two minutes. Be sure to scrape the bowl often.
2. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and continue beating. Release the bowl from the mixer and switch to a sturdy spoon. Stir in about 2 1/4 – 2 3/4 cups of the all-purpose flour until dough pulls cleanly away from side of bowl.
3. On lightly floured surface, knead in the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup of all-purpose flour for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth. Grease a large bowl with vegetable oil and place the dough in the bowl, coating all sides with the oil. Loosely cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes or until double in size.
4. Grease two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans with more vegetable oil. Gently push a fist into the dough to release some air, then divide into two pieces. Using a floured rolling pin, lightly roll one of the doughs out then roll from the short side, similar to a jellyroll, to form a cylinder shape. Tuck the ends under slightly and place in one of the pans. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover with the kitchen towel again and allow to rise for another 30 to 45 minutes or until double in size.
5. Uncover doughs and baked in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped. Take the loaves out of the pans and set on cooling racks.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.
Shirley J provided their product at no cost to us. All opinions expressed here are our own.