This weather is PERFECT bread-making weather. In fact, I think I am going to make some bread today. Yes, you can make bread without a bread maker and it doesn’t take a ton of time kneading. You will have to be patient waiting for it to rise and so on. But make a ton of it in advance and freeze the dough. Trust me, my Honey White Wheat Bread recipe is so frigging good; dense, moist and buttery you will thank me several times. And it’s PERFECT with homemade jam (yes, I have a recipe for that and yes, you’ll have to wait) or your fav butter/olive oil/nut butter. Sandwiches aren’t just sandwiches with this bread. They’re an experience!
- 2 loaf pans
- A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment – don’t BS this, you need a stand mixer. The dough gets thick and over or under mixing will drastically effect the texture and density of your loaf.
- 1/2 cup of warm water (at least 110 degrees F)
- 2 packages of active dry yeast (I’ve never used instant yeast, there is a difference. One has to be proofed and one doesn’t. This recipe is for DRY YEAST NOT INSTANT.
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of warm half & half (you can use whole milk but h&h will give you a denser and moister bread. I wouldn’t recommend a low-fat milk because you need the fat content. If you’re worried about calorie count… don’t eat this bread.
- 1 stick of unsalted butter melted and cooled + one tablespoon reserved (do yourself a favor use butter, not margarine. I’m not a big fan of margarine. I’ll tell you why later.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey + 1/2 tablespoon reserved (I like Trader Joe’s Raw Honey or something nice from your local beekeeping community garden. Up yonder here in the Bronx, Friends of Brook Park produces honey. Do a little research and support any local beekeepers in your community!
- 2 jumbo or extra large egg yolks
- 5 to 6 cups white wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
In a warm mixing bowl (if your bowl is cold, run hot water on the OUTSIDE of the bowl) and mix together your sugar (cue Nina Simone’s “A Little Sugar in my Bowl”) and your warm water. Stir and allow to dissolve and get foamy. About 5-7 minutes.
On medium speed add your half & half, stick of butter and the honey until blended. Throw in your egg yolks, salt and 3 cups of flour. (*TIP: DON’T actually throw in your flour. In fact, you should STOP your mixer and add in your flour… unless you have one of those fancy Kitchenaid Pro mixers with the bowl shield on them. In that case just go ahead and throw your flour in and I’ll keep side-eying you).
Blend on low speed for about 5 minutes or so. Then slowly continue to add flour at about a half a cup at a time. As the dough gets thicker, up your speed until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl (you may not end up using all of your dough and don’t throw it all in either. As one of my food sheroes Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa says, “you can add more, but you can’t take it out if you mess up.”) Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes.
While the dough is kneading, have a glass of your favorite wine and grease a large bowl with butter. Dump your well kneaded dough out on a well-floured surface (for easy cleanup, I use a large cutting board but a clean countertop is fine, too) and knead until smooth and elastic about 2 minutes or so. Shape into a large ball and place into bowl, turn it over so it’s pretty greased up. Cover with a damp towel or piece of cheesecloth, find a warm/balmy place to sit for about an hour and allow to rise to twice its size.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 (if you’re using darker loaf pans, then pre-heat slightly lower to 325). Grease your loaf pans with butter and set aside. Once your dough has doubled, split in half and shape into loaves, place in loaf pans, recover and allow to double again, about an hour (gah! all this waiting… have another glass of pinot. It’s okay, you deserve it).
Once they’re ready to pop in the oven, take your melted butter and using a pastry brush, brush across the tops. Bake until done about 40 minutes and when the bread sounds hollow when tapped, turn loaves out onto wire racks while still warm and brush with honey. Allow to cool completely.