A few weeks ago, I pulled a cookbook off my shelf, searching for a bread recipe. I’ve been baking up bread at least once a week to feed my kiddos and the bachelor who lives downstairs.
I love bread-baking, in case I haven’t mentioned that a time or twenty. I love the smell of the yeast, the ingredients learning to cling together. The rising dough. A soft, brown crust.
I’ve mostly been making white bread lately, with a cup or two of whole-wheat flour thrown in. Even though it makes me cringe, it’s just so much easier than fussing with whole-wheat bread. The whole-wheat recipe I’d fallen back on time and time again required soaking of grains, 10-20 minutes with my mixer, and a bread that tasted like honey to me. (I’m just not a huge fan of most honeys, and although I use it I don’t want the taste to be overwhelming.)
So anyway, I made a recipe for simple bread loaves from Food That Says Welcome, a great little paperback cookbook from Barbara Smith—Michael W. Smith’s mom! It was the puffiest, softest bread I’d ever made. I lovingly called it “pillow bread” and gave the recipe a big star. But … I wanted to make it a whole-wheat bread, since white flour has basically no nutritional value.
I’ve decided the key to this puffy bread is triple rising. Yep, you heard me. Yes, that adds additional time to bread-baking, which is already a lengthy process. But it’s totally worth it. And, as this recipe shows, it can even make 100% whole wheat bread soft and puffy. I’ve NEVER had a 100% whole wheat bread that wasn’t dense.
So, whole foodies, your problems are solved. Make this bread. Listen to the rave reviews. Smile because you know the secret. And if you’re feeling generous, share the recipe.
This recipe can be made either in a stand mixer with dough hooks or mixed by hand. Because there is not a lot of kneading, it’s not too bad to do by hand.
Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over it. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat. Add honey and sugar and stir together. Let cool slightly – it’s OK if it’s warm, but not hot.
Add butter mixture, salt, and remaining 2 cups water to the yeast and water in the bowl and stir well to combine.
One cup at a time, add in flour and stir until it’s combined. When done, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead just until all the flour is worked into the dough. [Or, use speed 2 on your mixer with dough hooks.]
Cover bowl with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and then let rise again, about another 45 minutes to an hour.
Separate dough into two equal balls. Press each ball into a rectangle with floured hands, roll up lengthwise, and then tuck ends under. Place loaves in greased loaf pans.
Cover pans and let rise again 30 minutes, until dough is to the top of the pans.
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until loaves are golden brown and sound a little hollow when you tap on them. Let loaves cool completely before slicing and serving.