Two delicious loaves of Light Wheat Bread liberally sweetened with Honey. Make this your favorite sandwich bread!!
I knead bread by hand.
To hell with machine kneading, is what I say.
I take pleasure in mixing ingredients into a large, shapeless, shaggy, sticky piece of dough. Mixing a combination of flours, sweeteners, butters, tenderizers, and yeast.
I turn this dough onto a lightly floured surface and dig my fingers in, getting them sticky. My fingers, they don’t remain sticky for long.
The more I dig my hands and fingers in, the longer I fold the dough onto itself and knead and knead again, the less sticky my fingers become. This mass of shapeless dough begins to take appearance.
It begins to resist my strong kneading hands. Why? When pushed down, it springs back up again. Why? Because it’s developing. This dough is holding its own. It is ready for the rise.
The rise takes place invisible to the naked eye. Yeast – A living, breathing organism grows, pushes, expands, and feeds.
Once the dough has risen, once the primary change is finalized, the dough is pressed down and shaped… Ready for its second, and in many cases, final rise.
Whenever I knead dough my mind wanders. I can’t help compare bread baking to child rearing. A mix of flours, liquids, yeast, sweeteners, and tenderizers. The shaggy, shapeless piece of dough, awaiting strong hands to give it form. The pushing, forming, the resistance. When it resists, knowing you must leave it alone, allow it time to rest and soften, but testing to make sure it’s ready for strong kneading hands. Then there’s the rise, pushed by internal forces. The press down by strong willing hands which deflate the air trapped during the rise (can someone say teen years?!) The shaping, the second rise.
It is within the shaping process and second rise that bread takes its final, permanent form. So when shaping it, one must be careful. If you screw up, yes – You can start again. You can deflate and reshape the dough; however, that means this dough will have to rise again. And don’t you want your bread? Don’t you want to know how this jammy turns out?
I must stress, the shape before the final rise is highly important. Because once you pop this bread in the oven, once heat takes a hold of it, pushing it into one last metamorphosis, there is no turning back. The shape you gave it right before you pop that sucka’ in the oven is permanent.
It’s the same with children. There is a point when there is no more shaping, no final rise. Once heat takes a hold of it that is THE point of no return. Whatever the fuck pops out of the oven is what you get.
And so, you must be diligent in the way you shape it, in the way you mold it. Be loving, be strong. Question why it resists. If it resists, ask YOURSELF why. Stop kneading. Wait. Then try kneading again. Persist. Never give up.
Because the truth is, being persistent pays off. Because the truth is, no one wants a shit piece of bread. Especially bread you have full control over the second you stick your hands in that shapeless mass of sticky dough. It is you who is responsible for its shape, its mold, its change. For its very existence. Be careful with it. Because, and I must reiterate, no one wants a shit piece of bread.
I’m mean, sure we’ll eat it. Sure it may taste OK, but nothing – Nothing compares to a bread whose shape is strong, whose crumb is gorgeous, which yields to the bite, melts on the tongue, and is lovingly flavored with honey.
I am trusting you with this Light Honey Wheat Bread. It’s like raising a child. Be meticulous in the way you treat it. In the way you knead it, in the rise, in its shape, that final rise. In what pops into the oven. In what comes out, as there truly is NO turning back.
Make sure its final form is beautiful.
- Yield: 2 loaves
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
Light Honey Wheat Bread
- Warm water (105-115 degrees F) - 3/4 cup
- Instant dry yeast - 1 tablespoon
- Granulated sugar - 1 ¼ tablespoons
- All-purpose flour - 5 ¼ cups
- Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
- Salt - 1 tablespoon
- Whole milk, at room temperature - 1 1/2 cups
- White vinegar - ½ tablespoon
- Unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled - ½ cup (1 stick)
- Honey - 1/3 cup
- 1 egg beaten (for egg wash
To small bowl combine warm water, yeast, and granulated sugar. Stir to combine and allow the mixture to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200° Fahrenheit.
In a very large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and salt. Create a well in the center. In a large measuring cup, combine the whole milk, vinegar, melted butter, and honey. Pour the wet ingredients in center of the flour mixture. Stir with a spatula until a shaggy dough forms.
Scoop ¼ cup of all-purpose flour and set aside (you won’t use it all, but it’s still good to have). Turn the dough onto a very lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, dusting your hands lightly with flour if the dough becomes too sticky, about 8-10 minutes. The dough should be slightly tacky, but not sticky.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, turning a couple of times to coat. Cover the bowl with either plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Place the bowl near the preheated oven and allow it to rise until doubled in bulk, anywhere from 60-80 minutes depending on the heat of your kitchen.
Lightly grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.
When dough has finished rising, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it down gently. Divide the dough into two equal portions (weighing roughly 29.5 ounces each).
Press down one piece of dough at a time and form each piece of dough into a rough rectangle. Begin to form a loaf by rolling the dough from the short end, much like forming a jelly roll. Pinch the seams and place the loaves seam side down in the pans. Cover the loaf pans with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes – 1 hour.
Raise the oven temperature 350° Fahrenheit and place a rack in the center of the oven. Lightly brush the tops of each loaf with egg wash. Place pans in the center rack and bake for 45-50 minutes until the tops brown and the internal temperature of each loaf registers over 190° Fahrenheit. I usually remove my bread from the oven when the temperature registers about 200° degrees. It’s how I roll.
Remove loaves from the oven. Place them on a cooling rack and allow the loaves to cool for about 2-3 minutes. Remove bread from the loaf pans and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Allow the loaves to cool completely before slicing. Or you can be like me, and slice while the bread is still warm. I must warn you, it won’t slice as pretty if you do.
Adapted from: Annie's Eats