I’ve made this bread a couple of times now, and really like how it turns out — it’s good for sandwiches and toast, but is also really delicious right out of the oven and as rolls. The recipe comes from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, which is all whole grain bread and muffin recipes. The one thing I would stress is to make sure that the whole wheat flour you have is milled from hard wheat berries (spring is ideal but winter would also probably work). Most whole wheat flour is milled from soft wheat, which doesn’t have enough gluten to make good bread, and if you use that you will have to add vital wheat gluten to make it work. I used King Arthur whole wheat flour the first time I made this, and it came out really well, and the second time I milled my own flour with organic wheat I bought at our local organic market in the bulk section.

Also, since I hardly ever have buttermilk on hand I used powdered buttermilk following the package instructions for substituting it for fresh, but that didn’t seem to hurt the results.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water

1/4 cup very hot water
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups cold buttermilk

5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt

2 to 4 tablespoons butter

Dissolve the yeast in warm water.

Mix the hot water with the honey and add the buttermilk. The temperature should be just slightly warm.

Stir the flour and salt together, making a well in the center. Pour the yeast and buttermilk mixture into the well, and stir from the center outwards, incorporating all the flour. Test the dough to see whether more flour or water is needed and adjust accordingly (I would recommend letting the dough rest for five minutes before making this decision so the flour can absorb more of the water). The bread is lightest if the dough is slightly soft. Knead about 20 minutes, adding the butter in cold bits at the end of the kneading time.

Form the dough into a ball and place it smooth side up in the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm, draft-free place. After about an hour and a half, gently poke the center of the dough about 1/2 inch deep with your wet finger. If the hole doesn’t fill in at all or if the dough sighs, it is ready for the next step. Press flat, form into a smooth round, and let the dough rise once more as before. The second rising will take about half as much time as the first.

Press the dough and divide in two. Round it and let it rest until relaxed, then deflate and shape into loaves or rolls. The recipe makes two loaves for 8″ x 4″ pans. For rolls, one loaf’s worth of dough makes 9 large or 15 small dinner rolls in 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 13″ pans, respectively.

Place the shaped dough in greased pans and let rise in a warm place until the dough slowly returns a gentle fingerprint. The dough makes a very high loaf when properly kneaded, so be a little bold about giving it time. Bake the bread in a preheated 325 degree (F) oven for nearly an hour. Rolls take 15-20 minutes, depending on their size, at 400 degrees (F). Brush the rolls with butter when they come out of the oven.

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