The Case of the Bread in the Night

“Aw, shoot, we forgot to put the bread in the oven!,” I said.

It was about a quarter ’till eleven p.m. and I was just climbing into bed. Unfortunately two loafs of bread had already been rising on the stove, so it’s not like we could just put them away and save them.

“Just put it in the oven. We’ll hear the timer when it goes off,” said Sara.

“Are you sure? What if we don’t hear it?”

“Well, I’ll hear it for sure. And if we don’t, it will just keep going off until we do hear it.”

I wasn’t really sure that would be a good outcome in this situation, but I was so exhausted I did what I was told, climbed into bed, and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.

The next moment I was jolted awake by the timer going off on the oven. I leaped out of bed before I had time to wake up, grateful that I had heard the timer. I stared blearily at the clock. Something about the time was nagging at me. It seemed wrong.


In my haste, I slammed into the foot board while rounding the corner, waking Sara.

“Is it 11:45?” I asked as I ran from the room, confused.

The bread didn’t seem to be burned, but it was pretty dark and I didn’t seem to be thinking clearly. Just to be sure I turned on a light to check. In my sleepy state I somehow flicked the garbage disposal switch instead of the light, even though the two are nowhere near each other. Perhaps the bread was a *little* dark, but maybe not.

Surely if it had been cooking for an hour instead of half an hour, double the correct time, it would look burned, right?

I stumbled back to the bedroom.

“What time did we put the bread in? Wasn’t it like 10:45?”

“I don’t know. I think so, but that doesn’t seem right.”

Well, apparently it was right, and the timer had been going off for half an hour without waking us. It turns out that our bread is a hearty creature who laughs in the face of an extra baking. It was surprisingly edible. The crust was sort of thicker than usual, and a slice had to be eaten with plenty of water to avoid dehydration, but other than that it was fine.

I think it is safe to say we won’t be doing THAT again anytime soon!

(and by that I mean listening to my wife)

Honey Wheat Bread

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

I set out on a mission to find a good, spongy, soft, 100% whole wheat bread. We only use white whole wheat flour, but a lot of the bread recipes we try end up very tough or dense. This was creating a bit of a problem, because bread from the store is increasingly disgusting (i.e. high fructose corn syrup flavored foam bricks with ingredients lists that are inexplicably longer than my arm), but I couldn’t find a good substitute. So I began trying various recipes until I finally found one that was everything I ever wanted, and more.

The Journey:

The reason this recipe is “the one” is because it has a lot of sugar in it. That’s both the good and the bad, but it is a necessary evil because it’s what makes the bread light and fluffy. That sugar is yeast food, and it makes the dough rise like crazy. In fact, with a little extra rising time, you can actually split the loaf in half and make two loaves for the price of one. Lately I have been experimenting with cutting out a tablespoon of brown sugar. So far I haven’t noticed a difference.

I make the bread on the dough cycle of our bread machine, but you could conceivably do it by hand. I’ve just found from experience that I don’t mix it it enough when I do it by hand. Besides, why even have a bread machine if you’re not going to use it? (And believe me, we get a lot of use out of ours)

After the bread has been mixing for awhile in the bread maker, I open it up and scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is mixing well, and also add a tiny bit of water if it seems necessarily. I like wet dough, because it tends to rise better. Basically, every bread recipe I’ve ever tried for whole wheat flour has required me to add water to it. I don’t know if people just consistently underestimate the amount of water they need, if the recipes are really for bread flour and whole wheat needs more water, or if there’s just something about my baking environment that requires more water. But anyway, feel free to play with the recipe if it’s not coming out quite right.

The Verdict:

For artisan breads I rely on Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (perhaps there’ll be a post on that someday), but this recipe cannot be beat for a sandwich loaf. I don’t think it’s out of line to say this is the best whole wheat bread I have ever made. We don’t buy bread anymore, we only make it. In fact, I have even used this recipe to make some very excellent hamburger and even brat buns!

The Recipe:

The original recipe was from the Internet, but I can’t find it anymore.

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • sprinkle of ginger (I sprinkle *very* liberally with the ginger, because I like ginger)
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  1. Mix in the dough cycle of the bread machine (or by hand if you want, but I get better results in the bread machine)
  2. Deflate the dough and put it in a greased loaf pan, or shape into buns
  3. Cover with a towel and let rise. If you’re in a hurry, let it rise on the oven while it preheats.
  4. Bake at 365 for 30 minutes