There is something about homemade bread that is unlike any other food. The warmth, smell and texture are pleasing, but bread also holds a sense of nostalgia. Many of us can remember our parents making fresh bread (even if it was made from a frozen loaf). Or the anticipation of being served warm bread at a nice restaurant, arriving to your table snuggled in a basket within cloth napkins. When we eat bread, it conjures immediate pleasure and often good memories of the past.
Here’s one such story shared by Jeffrey Hamelman, author and certified master baker, on the Bread Baker’s Guild forum:
I was teaching a five-day bread class at King Arthur Flour in Vermont. On the fourth day, we baked several different rye breads. The tasting of one of the breads, one made with 90% rye flour, happened on the fifth day. On that fifth day, I sliced up the 90% rye–it was naturally leavened and organic, large and round, baked on the hearth. I passed the slices around, asking the students to wait until everyone had a slice before eating it. One of the students, a man in his mid-forties with a thick and heavy accent, was born and raised in Russia, but living for many years in Boston. During the week he had been engaged, but somewhat silent. When he tasted the rye bread he exploded. An uncontrollable flood of words poured out of his mouth–“I WAIT TWENTY-FIVE YEAR FOR THIS BREAD. TWENTY-FIVE YEAR! This is what I grew up on. This is bread of my country, of my youth! In Spring, we eat with sour cream and radish, or with scallion. In Summer with cucumbers. In Fall we eat with borscht. This my bread!” The torrent of recollections went on and on, as every memory of his bread-eating upbringing came back to him, overpowering and irrepressible, pouring into my startled ears and those of the incredulous students. One bite of bread, and he was transported. Imagine that; one simple bite of bread.
The good news is that all of us can experience the wonder of freshly made bread whenever we choose. And we can possibly make even better bread than our parents (if they used those frozen loaves…). By tasting, smelling, touching, remembering, but also sourcing ingredients, milling, mixing, rising and baking, we can participate in the ritual of bread. In it, we satisfy something deep. And because of fresh bread’s appeal, it’s easy to invite others to join in the making and eating, developing relationships in the process.
Here’s your gateway to the ritual of bread, our simple recipe for honey whole wheat:
Serving Size: 1 Loaf
Prep Time: 2-3 Hours
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Cooking Temp: 350°F
1.25 cups warm water (105-110°F)
1.5 tsp yeast
1.5 tsp salt
3 cups freshly ground soft white wheat flour, divided (milled with the Lee Household Flour Mill)
2 tbsp honey
1.5 tbsp melted butter
1.5 tbsp milk
- With the whisk attachment, combine the warm water, yeast, salt and 1 cup flour in an electric mixer. This can also be mixed by hand with a sturdy whisk. Remove the whisk and let stand 45 minutes.
- Add the remaining 2 cups flour, honey, butter and milk. Knead with dough hook on the mixer (or mix by hand with a sturdy wooden spoon or dough whisk) for 5 minutes. Transfer to a very well-greased bread pan to rise for 1-2 hours. Cover with a tea towel while rising.
- After at least an hour, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Using hot pads, remove from pans while hot. Place on wire rack and then brush top and sides with melted butter while hot to keep the crust soft.
Find this and many other delicious and nutritious whole grain recipes throughout our site.