Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread with Wheat Germ and Rye

What is it about baking bread? For me, it is part nostalgia, part therapy, part loving the smell of bread baking in my kitchen and part just liking the idea of eating homemade bread.

For the nostalgia part, I remember coming home from church when I was growing up and having my Mom’s bread baking in the oven. The smell was intoxicating as we entered the kitchen through the garage door. I could not wait to change out of my “church clothes” which usually consisted of some combination of pink, lace and ruffles with tights, always with the white tights and shiny white patent shoes. I have no memory of what we feasted on at those Sunday suppers; all I remember is that bread. My Mom would ritualistically take the bread out of the oven and place it in the center of the table on a cutting board. She would slice into it and I would hear the crunch of the outer loaf and watch the knife slice through the floured top and into the warm doughy middle. The steam from the insides would billow out of the center of the bread like a geyser. She would cut me a generous slice and top it with a pat of butter that would melt from the middle of the slice and down the sides. I would take that first bite and feel the butter and bread come together and melt in my mouth. After polishing off the slice, I would lick all of my fingers clean that were, at that point, completely slathered in butter.

Now that I am all grown up (in theory anyway), I also get to make the bread which can double as therapy. Not the same sort of therapy that comes from pounding meat until it is completely flattened but that’s an entirely different blog post. Sometimes kneading bread soothes the soul more than my workouts or a glass of wine after a tough day. Once you make your own bread, you will never get it from the grocery store again.

Recipe from “The Next Best Recipe” from Cook’s Illustrated.


2 1/3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup rye flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface

In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix the water, yeast, honey, butter, and salt with a rubber spatula. Mix in the rye flour, wheat germ, and 1 cup each of the whole-wheat and all-purpose flours.

Add the remaining whole-wheat and all-purpose flours, attach the dough hook, and knead at low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead about 30 seconds.

Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Gently press down the dough and divide into two equal pieces. Gently press each piece into a rectangle about 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches. With a long side of the dough facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing down to make the dough stick to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place each cylinder of dough seam-side down in a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan and gently press the dough so it touches all sides of the pan. Cover the shaped dough with a towel and let rise until almost doubled in volume, 20 to 30 minutes.

Bake 35-45 minutes. Transfer the bread immediately from the baking pans to wire racks, cool to room temperature.

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