There’s something about making bread in winter that takes the dreariness out of the day. Yesterday I made four loaves of my favorite whole wheat bread and thought I’d share the recipe with you. If you’ve never made bread before, this would be a good recipe to start with. If you are a regular bread baker, then you will appreciate how versatile this recipe is.
This recipe makes four small loaves (8×4-inch pans) or three large loaves (9×5-inch pans). It’s a lot of dough to handle, but it’s easy for me because of the Mirro Gold-fashioned Bread Mixer my mother bought me in 1976. I looked for it online to see if I could find a website for you, but it has been relegated to the “vintage” kitchen appliance sites. You can still find them, if you look at sites like e-Bay, and it would be well worth it to find one if you like making bread in large quantities. You put all the ingredients in, assemble the dough hook and handle, and crank it around and around. My children loved to take turns “kneading” the dough.
Here is the recipe:
5 cups water or milk
1 cup honey
3 1/2 Tablespoons or packages yeast (not the quick rise)
1/2 cup oil
2 Tablespoons salt
10 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of very warm water (110-115 degrees) with a little bit of the honey. Let it sit for 10 minutes to see if the yeast is active and spongy. It it’s not, throw it out and start again with fresh yeast. Don’t skip this step!
Dump the yeast mixture in a very large bowl. Add the rest of the warm water (you can use warm milk, if you wish, or a combination of the two), the honey, oil, salt, and the two cups of white flour. Stir the flour in and keep adding more flour until you can’t stir it anymore. Put some flour on your work table, turn the dough out onto it, and work the remaining flour in. You may not need all the flour. Knead the dough for about eight minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
Grease a very large bowl and put the dough in it, turning it over until it is greased on all sides. Cover the dough with a damp dishtowel and then another dry towel and let it rise until double in bulk, about an hour or a little more. Punch it down, divide it into 3 or 4 loaves, shape it by pressing each portion flat and then rolling it up and tucking the ends under, and place in greased bread pans. Cover the pans with dishtowels and let rise again for another 1/2 hour until dough is just beginning to rise above the top edge of the pan (do not over rise). Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes for small loaves and 40-45 minutes for large loaves. Watch them and cover them loosely with aluminum foil if they are getting too brown. As soon as you take them out of the oven, turn them out of their pans and cool on racks.
The great thing about this recipe is that it is so adaptable. You may use all whole wheat flour or all white flour. You can add leftover cereals or grains to the recipe and cut back on the flour. I put about a cup of dry oatmeal and a little flaxseed in my bread yesterday. You can add herbs or onion or raisins and cinnamon. This dough can also be used for pizza. Use your imagination. Just remember that homemade yeast bread spoils quickly, so freeze the loaves you aren’t eating right away or giving away. I would love to hear from you if you make this. And I hope you find that vintage Mirro bread maker!
Here are more pictures from yesterday.