You know what's beautiful? Bread. It's one of those glorious miracles of human civilization. With just a few ingredients and a bit of patience, we can harness the mighty powers of science.
I mean, how freaking awesome is yeast? Tiny bacteria that just need some sugar and a little private time and they'll do all the flavor-building, bubble-producing work? Yes please!
I love watching yeast dissolve into fluffy froth in warm water, boiling furiously just beneath the surface. I love the smell of honey and flour and the sticky satisfaction of a glossy, well-kneaded lump of dough.
Wafting on waves of oven warmth, the smell of freshly-baked bread fills the whole house, the homiest, most smile-inducing scent on earth.
And biting into the perfect, soft, ever-so-slightly sweet slice of bread is one of the simplest ecstasies I have ever experienced.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
(recipe from allrecipes.com)
3 cups warm water
1/3 cup honey
4 1/2 teaspoons dried active yeast
5 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup honey
2-4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons of melted butter
In a large bowl, combine the water, honey, and yeast and leave it to sit until frothy (usually 5-10 minutes). Now stir in the 5 cups of plain flour. Cover and set aside in a warm place for about an hour (or until it has become bubbly and has roughly doubled in size).
Add the butter, salt, and additional honey and stir to combine. Scatter two cups of whole wheat flour on a clean surface and tip the dough out onto it. Sprinkle roughly half a cup more of whole wheat flour over the dough and begin kneading. As the flour is combined with the dough, it will start to get sticky again. Add more flour, a little at a time, if the dough become unworkable but try to maintain a fairly sticky surface.
Place the dough in a large bowl and very lightly grease it by pouring a little oil in the bowl and turning the dough a few times until it is coated. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about two hours).
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into three pieces using a knife. Shape each third and place them in lightly greased loaf pans. Set the pans, covered, in a warm place for the final rise.
While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 350º F (170º C).
Bake in the lower third of the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Brush the tops with melted butter when they come out of the oven to prevent them from hardening.