I didn’t really have anything planned for today. Well, that isn’t strictly true—I got ingredients for a few things a couple days ago, so my plan for today was to keep things organic (said in a pretentious voice) and make something if the inspiration happened upon me. Then my brother asked me what I was going to make today, and I immediately knew that I was going to make honey wheat bread. While in the process of making that, my mom came home with more white chocolate, so I made those delicious white chocolate oatmeal cookies again.
Let me start by saying this: the idea of making bread has always scared me a little bit. Cakes? Nah. Cookies? Definitely not. Bagels? Please. Bread? SCARY.
I realize that this is ridiculous and more than a little bit irrational. But hear me out: with basically everything else I have ever made, there was a way to tell if it was done baking. Of course, most of these are not quite as definitive as the toothpick test for cakes (for instance, I know my bagels are done when I poke them and they just…feel done…) but there is still a method. But when I asked my mom how to tell if bread was done, she said, and I quote: “I don’t know, just thump it?”
And yes, I know that my bagel-poking test is more or less the same as thumping a loaf of bread, but it’s always scary trying new things. Regardless, I decided to try my hand at bread. Just to ease my mind a little (and also because I am super lazy), I decided to use the bread machine. That way the only part that’s really up to me is the actual baking.
In spite of my vague terror of baking bread (or more specifically, of screwing up the baking of bread), my loaf turned out beautifully. It’s got a nice crunchy crust and a soft, fluffy middle. No raw spots! I am persuaded this is merely a fluke. Besides the fact that it looks and feels beautiful, it also tastes great—faintly sweet, but not so much that it won’t work for any kind of sandwich you might possibly desire.
Although you can definitely make this bread without a bread machine (here’s a handy how-to video), if you are as lazy/scared of messing things up as I am, the bread machine will be your new best friend. Other than that, you just need something to bake the bread in—apparently you can make it into basically whatever shape you want, so this is really up to you.
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 cup of scalded milk (cook on stove until small bubbles form around the edges—don’t let it boil!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1 cup flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats
(You can mix and match with the all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Want more whole wheat? Go for it.)
- Dump everything in the basket of your bread machine in the order recommended (for me, liquids on bottom, dry ingredients on top with the yeast on the very top). Or, knead and let rise.
- Once the dough cycle has finished/the dough has risen for long enough, shape it into whatever form you want, cover it with a clean towel, and let it rise for another 3-4 hours. This part is truly impressive. My loaf at least tripled in size.
- Once part 2 is almost finished, preheat oven to 375°. After the dough has finished rising, pop it in the oven for 25-30 minutes. I baked mine for 20 minutes, then covered it with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting too crispy, and baked it another 5 minutes.
- After turning the loaf out of the pan, let it rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting into it.
I’m not sure yet that my fear of baking bread is quite cured, but it’s at least lessened. I guess the only way to really cure it is just to make more bread…