I like to call this time of year the beginning of hibernation season. Already, my slippers have replaced the flip-flops sitting by my front door, the giant fleecy blanket has taken up residence on my futon, and my jar of hot-chocolate mix is sitting on my counter top. I know that we're only awaiting even colder weather, of course, but I'm trying to ease into it. And this weekend has truly been a pleasant help with that: a cool crisp bite to the air, a clear blue sky, a sun that made its presence known without any overbearing heat. Although I chill easily, the only two complaints I have about our autumn are the the swiftness of the sunsets and the shortness of the days...all the less time to enjoy them! But I suppose if I really want a lesson in darkness, I should spend some winter time in Alaska.
Anyway, when I get into my hibernation mode, I don't think I'm alone in the fact that warm, soothing recipes are at the top of my must-try list. When I woke up this morning, I was all set with a pan to make a loaf of Honey Whole Wheat bread. I eagerly anticipated how the aroma would emanate through my apartment and how satisfying a slice would taste with a glass of milk.
Unfortunately, I did something terribly wrong, and even now, I'm not exactly sure of what that might have been. I think perhaps that I did not work with the yeast correctly, or maybe I didn't heat the other ingredients to the right temperature. My guess is that I did something wrong with the yeast; my dough refused to rise at all, even after an hour spent in my oven (not turned on, but always warmed) in hopes of rising. Because of this, I wasn't able to continue with baking, which was a big disappointment. But also within it is a good lesson: though not as much or as frequently with cooking, recipes in baking are finicky and demand precision. If one is too busy reading the first issue of The Food Network magazine to pay careful attention to the mixing bowl in front of her (as a certain baker might have been this morning) then one's Honey Whole Wheat bread might not turn out well.
Well, I seemed to have failed as a baker today. But I do think that this recipe will yield yummy results, and I will try it again sometime soon, myself.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
3/4 cup warm water
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
Place the warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast, stir until dissolved and let stand until creamy. Add the warm milk, honey, oil, salt, and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; blend well. Stir in whole wheat flour and mix well. Add the remaining all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is soft and workable (there may be some flour left over).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Punch the dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Form dough into a loaf and place into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove loaf from the pan and cool on a wire rack.