Okay, I’m not trying to fool anyone here.
This isn’t my own recipe and I didn’t win any awards with it. Nor is it actually award-winning since I modified the recipe from its original state, resulting in a chewier, wheatier loaf that only barely breathes a hint of sweetness rather than highlighting the whole flavor profile the way it was probably supposed to.
But in any case, the yeast activated and the bread rose and when it came out of the oven, it was warm with a pliable, reasonably tight crumb and it smelled like fresh bread and the first bite held the unequivocable magic of a first bite of a fresh loaf of bread. Can’t ask for too much more than that!
Penny’s Prize Winning Whole Wheat Bread
Lazily adapted from Joseph’s Grainery. I say lazily because I didn’t have the hard red whole wheat flour that the original recipe calls for, so I substituted (extra) whole wheat flour for it. I also didn’t have shortening (or a desire to use it) so I used butter. And I switched some of the flour ratios. If you want a very respectable, easy sandwich bread recipe, feel free to follow my modifications. If you want prize-winning bread, I suggest following the original directions (but watch out for the 2+ hours needed for rising time!)
1 pkg perfect rise yeast (active dry also works!)
1/4 c warm water
1 1/2 c hot water
1/3 c brown sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
3 cups whole wheat flour, divided
2-3 cups all purpose flour
Directions: Combine hot water, sugar, salt and butter; cool to lukewarm. While mixture is cooling, soften the yeast in 1/4 c warm water* (110 degrees). Stir in 2 cups of the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all purpose flour to the sugar mixture; beat well. Stir in the softened yeast. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface; knead till smooth and satiny (10 to 12 minutes – you can use a kitchenaid mixer for this if you have one).
Shape the dough into a ball; place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover; let rise in warm place until it doubles in size (about 1 1/2 hours)**. Punch down. Cut into 2 portions; shape each in a smooth ball. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Shape into loaves; place in greased loaf pans. Let rise until double (about 1 1/4 hours). Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.
*If you’re using a microwave, I find that microwaving the water in a mug for 15 seconds (maybe 10 seconds, since the water volume is so little) generally gets the right lukewarm temperature that yeast needs to thrive. If the water is too hot to comfortably dip your finger into, it’s definitely too hot for the yeast.
**Covering the bowl with a damp towel or regular towel and putting it in the oven generally yields the best results for me. I was short on time for the second rise, so I turned the oven on for five minutes, turned it off, and put the rising loaves inside the toasty warm oven. The warmer it is, the faster yeast will rise! (though there is a limit to the optimum temperature!)