Whole Wheat Bread

I love to bake my own bread. Nothing beats the aroma of bread baking in the oven!I have several friends that are getting into baking their own bread so I thought that I would share the recipe that I use. I've tried several recipes over the last couple of years and the one that I'm currently using is my favorite. It uses about 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. I like this recipe the best because of it's flavor and texture. The whole wheat enhances the flavor of the bread without being too overwhelming. The recipe makes two loaves of bread, which lasts my family of four about five to six days. On the day that I make the bread, I put the extra loaf in a bag and wrap it completely with tin foil and put it in the freezer. Then on the morning that I need another loaf, I can pull it out of the freezer and we once again have fresh bread for lunch. In the few days that it takes for us to eat the whole loaf, the bread stays nice and fresh. This recipe is from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 14th edition. I just have to say that if I could only have one cookbook, I would choose this one. It is a wonderful cookbook that covers everything. It has a nice section in the beginning called "Cooking Basics" that covers different kinds of pots, pans and gadgets, as well as a glossary of cooking terms and ingredients. It is filled from beginning to end with lots of great information for both beginner and experienced cooks. I highly recommend this cookbook.

When my son was allergic to dairy as a baby, I started making my own bread using my bread machine. With that recipe, I substituted oil for the butter that was called for. I have discovered that for this recipe, olive oil makes a great substitution for the butter in the recipe. Olive oil is good to use instead of butter because it is healthier for your heart since it has a lot less saturated fat and no cholesterol. Also, 10 of the 14 grams of fat per tablespoon are monounsaturated. According to the American Heart Association, "Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.  Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of." Plus, if you have a family member that is allergic to dairy, this is a wonderful bread that you can make that they can enjoy too.

Whole Wheat Bread

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, Whole Wheat Bread p. 144

3 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

2 1/4 tsp. Fleischmann's Bread Machine yeast

1 3/4 c. water

1/3 c. packed brown sugar

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/4 tsp. salt

2 c. whole wheat flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour with the yeast. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir together the water, brown sugar, olive oil and salt just until warm (120°F to 130°F). It's important to take the time to measure the temperature of the water. Yeast needs the right temperature to react as it should and in turn, cause the bread to rise properly. Add the water mixture to the flour mixture. Beat with mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping down the side of the bowl half way through. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Add the whole wheat flour and 1 more cup of all-purpose flour. Stir it together with a large spoon as best as you can.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured clean surface. Knead the flour slowly to until all the loose flour is kneaded in and it forms a dough ball, about 2 minutes. Continue kneading the dough for another 4 minutes to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball. Place it in a large bowl that has been greased with cooking spray. Lightly spray the top of the dough ball in the bowl. Also spray a little on one side of a piece of plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap, greased side down, over the bowl. Let the dough rise in a draft-free warm place until double in size. In the winter, it takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the dough to double; but in the summer, it only takes about an hour.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured clean surface. Cut the dough in half and form into two balls. Lightly grease two 9x5x2 loaf pans and set aside. Shape each dough half into a loaf by rolling each ball out one at a time into a 12x8 rectangular shape. Tightly roll up the rectangle, starting from the short end. When you are done rolling it, pinch the end to the roll to seal the seam. Repeat with the other dough ball. Place each loaf in a prepared pan. Cover one pan with the greased plastic wrap used to cover the dough when it was rising. For the other pan, tear off a second piece of plastic wrap, lightly spray it with cooking spray and cover. Let the loaves rise in a warm, draft-free place until they are nearly double in size. It take approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on how warm your house is.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 35 minutes. You can test for doneness by lightly tapping the top of the bread. If the bread is done, then it will sound hollow. During the last 10 minutes of baking, loosely cover the bread with a piece of tin foil to prevent overbrowning. When the bread is done, immediately remove the bread from the pans and cool on wire racks. Try to wait until the bread is cooled before cutting into it because it is difficult to cut warm bread without squashing the loaf. But if you just can't resist the aroma of fresh baked bread, then let it sit about 10-15 minutes before you slice of piece. :)

Makes 2 loaves (24 slices).

Nutrition information per slice:

108 Calories

2 g. fat

less than 0.5 g. saturated fat

0 mg. cholesterol

123 mg. sodium

21 g. carbohydrates

2 g. fiber

3 g. sugar

3 g. protein