"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, September 23, 2010

100% Honey Whole Wheat Bread

All makers of bread will swear by their recipe. But, it takes trial and error and everything is dependent on conditions. I've got dry climate, high altitude, and cool temps to work with. Nevertheless, here's what I've come up with after much failure and it's pretty darn good.

First I grind my wheat. I've tried both red and white winter wheat. Red makes a heartier bread and by that I mean darker in color, richer in texture and a little heavier by nature. White wheat is lighter and fluffier. Both are good.

I combine in my mixing bowl:

5 Cups of tepid water (my freshly ground flour is usually still warm)
1/2 Cup of oil
1 Cup of honey
2 Heaping TBLS of yeast
2 Heaping TBLS of vital wheat gluten dough enhancer (I've got altitude issues)

I mix and then add 7 Cups of flour, one at a time. Then I cover the whole bowl with a towel and let it sit for 30 minutes until it's nice and bubbly. Here's where I take the salt out and set it by the mixer so I don't forget it in the next stage -- I've done that more than once.

Then add:

5 Cups of flour plus enough to make the dough not extremely sticky. Wheat dough is always a little sticky, I think, but when pinched it shouldn't glue itself to your fingers. And, it should be sliding around in the mixing bowl. I've found here that more flour is better than less because a wetter dough will rise really pretty and then fall in the baking leaving your hopes and dreams flat on the floor.

2 level TBLS of salt -- DO NOT FORGET (or you'll be making a lot of french toast tomorrow)

Mix for five minutes and then put in a well oiled bowl to rise. I cover the bowl with plastic wrap for less sticking.

Rise for 1 hour until double. Punch down and divide into four equal parts. Shape into loaves, slapping each to expel any air bubbles and tuck into four well oiled pans.

I let these rise in my bottom oven with the light on for 30 to 40 minutes making sure the dough doesn't begin to flow over the edge of the pans. Otherwise, the loaves tend to flatten a bit in baking. A nice round rise is good.

Heat my top oven to 350 degrees. Move the loaves carefully from the bottom oven to the top and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10. Remove from pans and cool another 10 before slicing.

I need to make twice as many loaves and slice half of them to bag and store in the freezer but that requires more pans -- and another trip to the store. Wheat can be bought online here or even at your local Vitamin Cottage. And if you don't have a grinder, whole wheat from ye ol' grocery store works well, too.

Slathered with melted butter and a heap o' honey -- the kids live for coming off the bus on a day when mom has made a batch of bread.

(Credit where credit is due: Thanks Mom and Meg for helping me get it right. This cross between your recipes is perfect!)


  1. Why do you add the salt last? I just put mine in when I add my honey, oil, and yeast. NC must be a friendly place to make bread...although it will also mold within a matter of days too!

  2. My mother used to crank out perfect loaves there. Since moving to Utah, she has struggled with every batch.

    The honey added to the yeast speeds up the rise and the salt slows it down. At such altitude, putting the salt in with the yeast before it's had time to bud just seems to kill the whole thing and I get flat loaves. Weird. It's always so subjective to external conditions!

    But sounds like I'll count my blessings in that a batch lasts a good week -- guess that dry air is good for something.