This is my second take on making a honey wheat bread like the sort of bread I grew up eating.
My original honey wheat bread recipe is close
and damn good bread, if I do say so myself, but it isn't quite it.
This recipe will make 2 small loaves, or one large loaf. Here are the necessary ingredients:
The method for making this bread closely follows my how-to on baking white bread. So consult that page if you need detailed instructions on bread making.
The missing flavor ingredient was molasses. I discovered it as an ingredient on the labels of several brands of honey wheat bread and decided to try adding it to my own recipe. It has a unique and potent flavor and aroma. I knew I was on to something with the very first loaf of bread I baked with molasses added. The smell alone brought back childhood memories. Note that I am using cane molasses in this recipe. Beet molasses has a different flavor, and I haven't experimented with using it. So look at the label on the bottle and make sure it is cane molasses.
The other new ingredient is vital wheat gluten. I have been experimenting with adding it to some of my bread recipes. Again, it is something I have seen listed as an ingredient on labels of various brands of bread. I have also seen it in the flour isle of the grocery store and wondered about it. I did a little research and discovered it is added to make bread dough more stretchy, which improves the rise and the finished texture of the bread. It has no impact on the taste of the bread. Gluten is totally flavorless. So it can be added to just about any bread recipe to improve the rise or texture, if necessary.
I have cut back on the amount of honey in this recipe to allow for the addition of the molasses. The amount of honey is something I may further experiment with. Note that if you decide to vary the amounts of honey or molasses in this recipe, you may also need to adjust the amount of flour used, or your dough may be either too wet and sticky, or too dry.
I start by measuring out the flour and salt into the bowl of my stand mixer and attaching the dough hook. I then add the sugar and yeast into the warm water and stir vigorously. Set that aside for a few minutes for the yeast to bloom. It is ready when a froth begins to form on top of the water.
Once the yeast has bloomed, add the honey, molasses and oil to the liquid mixture and again stir it vigorously. The honey and molasses tend to sink to the bottom and stick like glue to the container. Make sure it is fully dissolved in the liquid
Now you are ready to make the dough. Start your stand mixer at low speed and pour in the liquid mixture in. Once the dough comes together into a ball, speed up the mixer to kneed the dough. Kneed it for at least 5 minutes. Once finished kneeding, drizzle a little olive oil in the bowl and turn the dough ball several times to coat it and the inside of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside somewhere warm for the dough to rise. Wait for it to double in size. It usually takes about an hour for me.
Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a floured surface and punch it down. Divide it into two more or less equal halves. Flatten each half out into a rectangle and then roll it up into a loaf shape, with the seam down, and pat the ends together. Place each loaf into a loaf pan that has some corn meal sprinkled in the bottom.
Place the two loaf pans on the top rack of your oven. On the bottom rack place a wide pan filled with boiling hot water. Close the oven door and leave the loaves to do their second rise in the warm, moist oven. After about another hour, the loaves should have doubled in size again and should be well above the tops of the loaf pans. Remove the loaves from the oven, but leave the pan of water in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I don't use my usual trick of pre-heating the oven to a higher temperature than I want and then
adjusting it down to 350 when I put the bread in. Between the honey and the molasses, this bread has such a high sugar content,
that the crust browns very quickly. The bread can be easily burned or blistered by the higher temperature.
When your timer goes off, remove the pan of water from the oven. Be careful not to splash yourself with the hot water. Set your timer for an additional 30 minutes of baking time. When the timer goes off again, check the bread. The crust should be dark brown and crispy. Thump the bread. It should be firm and hollow sounding. Leave it in for a few more minutes if it doesn't seem done enough yet.
When done, remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool in the pans until cool enough to handle without getting burned. turn the loaves out of the pans. This bread tends to stick in the pans worse than my white bread recipe. sometimes they need a little persuasion to leave the pans.
As I said above, this bread is still not an exact match for the bread I loved so much as a kid. Let me tell you though, the smell of
this bread fresh from the oven is to die for. It is damn good bread, and I like it a lot. I hope you do too.
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