for World Bread Day: Oct. 16, 2012
Many of us have wonderful memories of someone- a grandma, maybe- who made fragrant, yeasty, tender loaves of homemade bread. Heaven in a loaf pan.
I used a stand mixer to knead my bread, but Red Star Yeast includes directions for hand kneading and for bread machines.
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 cup bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup raisins
Combine bread flour, salt, brown sugar, buttermilk powder and yeast in your stand mixer bowl. We're not going to use the whole wheat flour just yet.
In a separate bowl, combine the water and the vegetable oil. Heat these to 120 to 130 degrees. Temperature is very important here- if the liquid is not warm enough, the yeast won't grow and your bread won't rise. If the liquid is too hot, it will kill the yeast and your bread won't rise. So, at this point, I always dig my candy thermometer out from the back of the drawer to make sure I get the liquids to just the right temperature.
Pour the heated water and oil into your stand mixer bowl and mix for 4 minutes on medium speed using the paddle attachment. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple of times as you go along.
Now you'll need your dough hook attachment. Gradually add whole wheat flour, and raisins, and knead with dough hook(s) 5 to 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Get a large bowl and spray it with non-stick spray. Lightly shape your dough into a ball and set it into the greased bowl, then turn the dough over (that greases the top of the dough for you). Now cover the bowl (I use a clean kitchen towel), and set it in a warm place.
Cover the loaf pan and let the dough rise until it has about doubled in size. That's the test my mom used. A little more accurate test you can do is to touch the side of the dough lightly with your fingertip. If the indentation remains, the loaf is ready for the oven. Bake in preheated 375º F oven 30 to 40 minutes (mine was done in 30). Use that time to enjoy how wonderful your kitchen smells. When the bread is done, remove it from the pan onto a wire rack, and let it cool completely before slicing.
This bread was tender and moist, and the raisins added a little extra sweetness. I was very impressed with how well the bread "kept". I think it may have been even better after a day or two.
I mixed up some cinnamon honey butter to serve with the bread:
This bread is great for breakfast, of course, but guess what else it's really good for? I made a ham sandwich with it- delicious! The salty ham and sweet raisins made a very nice combination.