Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Experimental Baking – Honey Wheat Bread – Part 1

on January 18, 2012

I have found that I have a tendency to binge bake.  Before Christmas, I had a desire to make every type of cookie I’d craved throughout the year and was disappointed when I didn’t get them all made.  Back in July, at county fair time, I filled my head with ideas of bringing home purple ribbons for beautiful loaves of bread and other baked goods while I finished trying new canning recipes and harvesting in our garden.

I never baked that bread, though.  Honestly, any ribbon I would have won would have been by chance or grace since I’ve never really baked bread.

Yeast dough rather intimidates me.  I didn’t help Mom bake bread growing up.  When I had baker duty at my scholarship house in college, the more experienced bakers paired with me decided it was easier for them to make the dinner rolls than for them to teach me, I think.  My only instruction with this type of dough has consisted of a kolache-making class at a community college about ten years ago.

I also have this silly sense of pride (or disillusionment) that I’ll be able to do anything I want to, though, and so, checking to make sure the needed ingredients were on hand, I held my breath and began to attempt the recipe of honey wheat bread Monday afternoon.

Lukewarm water.  You’d think that’d be easy, right?  For those of you more experienced than I am, please chuckle.  🙂  I don’t trust my senses for feeling if the water is “just right,” due to my inexperience.  A temperature range was given in the recipe, but then I found I wasn’t trusting my measurement device (thermometer) either.  I knew if the water was too cold, it wouldn’t activate the yeast.  Too hot, and I would kill it.  (I do have enough practice to have erred on both sides of this.)  I did end up going more by feel, but with very little assurance.

I measured and mixed a midst various distractions from my toddler.  I kneaded by hand, though not satisfied that I had achieved the “satiny” finish that the recipe mentioned.

We went out for groceries, and when we returned, ALLELUIA!  The dough had risen!  JOY!  I punched it down, separated the three loaves, and let it rise again while I started making supper.

At 8:00 that night, I pulled the bread from the oven.  It looked good!  It smelled good!  And it tastes delicious!  In my next post, I’ll share the recipe.

Stay tuned,

~Dana

For the recipe, see my post: Experimental Baking – Honey Wheat Bread – Part 2

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9 responses to “Experimental Baking – Honey Wheat Bread – Part 1

  1. Marla says:

    Yeah! I love making homemade bread and it has taken me years of practice to get it right. Congrats on making a good loaf!

  2. Liz D says:

    wow! Good for you! I can never get it to rise. I think my house is too cool or something. Where did you put it to rise? I have had some success putting it on the warmed toaster oven, but it is a balance of too hot/too cold.

    • Dana K says:

      Liz, I don’t think this is a method to replicate, but I’ll tell you what I did. First, our house was probably about 71° as Chad likes it warm and I think I forgot to turn down the heat for the day. My biggest bowl is plastic, so that’s what I used to put the whole batch in to rise. I set it on the counter to the right of our stove/oven, covered with a dish towel. I may have left on the under-counter lights as well, which also generate some noticeable heat. I think my failed attempts in the past have been more in spring or summer when the house is cooler, so you may give it a try this winter.

  3. Amy says:

    Yum, I’m always intimidated by yeast breads but want to try. I look forward to the recipe. Love reading about your days.

  4. Kayla says:

    Awesome! I’ve recently experimented making home made “hot pockets” and cheese bread using yeast dough. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t turn out due to inexperience, but they were so yummy! My confidence is growing (and my mom would be surprised to know that I’m actually cooking something complicated!). I did NOT like cooking until the past few years since I thought it was too much work. Although, having some extra time does seem to help with that.

    And I agree, how do you know the right temperature for lukewarm? I figure if it feels warm to my finger, it’s ok. I’d guess around 100-105F? 🙂

  5. Dana K says:

    Kayla, those dishes sound delicious! I think I’m surprising my mom, too. I know I did with this bread thing. I even kneaded by hand. I agree that having more time does help make more-involved cooking more fun and less stressful/overwhelming.

    The recipe I had gave a range of 110-115F for lukewarm, but by my thermometer (which, as I said, I ended up not trusting), that felt much too hot. For baby baths, they say lukewarm is essentially not feeling warm or cold. For the yeast, I went with the water feeling a bit warm. I think I even tested it on my wrist rather than my finger. 🙂

  6. […] I baked bread for the first time in years.  If you’d like to read about my experience, click here for yesterday’s post.   Today, I’m sharing a picture of how the loaves turned out and […]

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