Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Back to Food! Best Whole Wheat Bread

I have several people comment on my Planet of the Apes post. (They were not entirely positive if you know what I mean!) I know I shouldn't have summarized all of the Planet of the Apes movies--but I just couldn't help it! I keep talking about them to people and I just see their eyes glaze over. The extreme and utter badness of those movies has caught my imagination like nothing else.  They are a testament that a concept can perpetuate itself and people will actually write scripts, produce and yes, years and years later pay to see. It is beyond comprehension. So I apologize for the previous post--but I JUST COULDN'T HELP MYSELF!!!

So, due to popular demand, back to the food--and comfort food at that.

My grandmother made wonderful breads. I remember when we came for dinner that her house was filled with the smell of bread baking.

The recipe that follows is one of my favorites and is also a standby of mine.  I use it when I want fresh yeast bread that doesn't take forever or require special ingredients. It is consistent and yummy--but also basic. It only requires one rising which is also fantastic.

I like her thought about baking bread from her book, "Years ago I remember hearing a sweet little elderly woman say she always offered up a prayer as she kneaded her dough so that the bread would be good, and the materials she was using would not be wast3ed. Those were pioneer days when every grain of wheat was precious, but it still is a good idea today."

There is something magical about making yeast breads. You take disparate and the most ordinary ingredients; flour, water, yeast and at a point (during the kneading) it becomes something entirely new and extraordinary. it becomes a warm, smooth,  silky beautifully malleable mound.

Best Whole Wheat Bread

1 yeast cake (2 1/4 t. dry granular yeast)
1/3 c lukewarm water
1 T shortening
1 T honey
1 T molasses
3 c milk, scalded (scalding is unnecessary--see below)
6 cups whole wheat flour
1 T salt

Soften yeast in lukewarm water.

Melt shortening and combine with honey, molasses salt, and scalded milk. I heat the milk--scalding used to be necessary to kill potentially harmful bacteria in milk and destroy enzymes that keep milk from thickening in recipes. Pasteurization accomplishes this for us these days--some people still like to used unpasteurized milk so scald away if you do.)

I just melt the shortening in the
warm milk.
Cool to lukewarm and combine with the yeast mixture. (Another great thing about not having to scald the milk is that with only warmed milk you don't have to wait for cooling.)

Wet and dry ingredients before mixing.

Add enough flour to make a soft dough and knead it thoroughly (for at least 10 minutes), use extra flour if needed.

Here is where the magic happens!

Shape into 2 loaves and place in well-greased loaf pans. (I coat pans with a vegetable spray.)  Let rise to not quite double in bulk (about 2 hours); whole wheat dough sours if allowed to rise too long.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until well done. (My oven  bakes this much faster--the bread baked in about 50 minutes--so watch the oven! I tested it when the top looked golden brown by taking it out of the pan and tapping it on the bottom--if it sounds hollow the moisture is baked out and it is finished. You could use an instant read thermometer and if it is 200 degrees F. it is finished.)

The bread freezes well. When it is cold just wrap it up in aluminum foil and place in a plastic bag.  (I found that with this basic bread it is best eaten fresh. I thought it was a little dry and crumbly after freezing.)

For a change of pace try this recipe using shredded wheat as part of the flour. (I must say I have not even thought of doing this. If I am ever brave enough to try I will definitely let you know the results.)


  1. I LOVE this bread! I didn't even know it was from Grandma's cookbook!

  2. I can't wait to make it and try it! Looks delish!

  3. This looks great!!! But you are good at Bread. I am challenged in Bread making.

  4. How come I didn't get any of this bread?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Oops made a couple of mistakes in my above comment--So here goes again.

    Cher--you are an incredible cook and this recipe would be a snap for you!