Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mother's Wheat Bread

Okay, food fans! Here's my mother's wonderful wheat bread recipe, just made today. I wrote down this recipe in my personal cookbook, about 23 years ago:
So, I thought I'd take you through the recipe, then and now -- show the evolution of the recipe, because it has changed a lot in 23 years!
Here are the ingredients: wheat flour, white flour, oil, blackstrap molasses, honey, oats, flax seed, salt, yeast, milk, water.
The old recipe did not call for flax seed or oats, but Mother has added them to the recipe since then.
Dissolve 2 Tblsp. yeast in a cup of tepid water, and scald 3 cups of milk in the microwave. (Old recipe: scald 1 quart of milk on the stove top, wait for it to cool)
In a large bowl, mix 1/3 cup safflower oil, 1 cup honey, 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup flax seed. (Old recipe: 1 cup veg. oil, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup molasses)
Adding the honey. Blackstrap molasses is very dark.
Stir these ingredients until well blended. My mother doesn't use a mixer for her bread, as I do. At this point, also add the milk (cooled somewhat) and the yeast mixture. Be sure it's not hot enough to kill the yeast.
Now you'll add the flour. Sift and stir in 5 cups of white flour, and then 5 cups of wheat flour. Mix 2 Tbspn. of salt at this time also.
Mother switches to a flat wooden paddle at this point, and works the flour in. She leaves a little of the flour in the sifter, to use on the bread board.
Here's her bread board, made for her by an old friend. She turns the dough on on this board. You can see that it is only partially mixed, but dry enough not to be at all liquidy now.
Now she kneads the dough.
Fold in the dough and use the heel of the hand to press it down. 
After all these years, Mother can tell by the feel of the dough, if it has enough flour. You want just enough flour so it is not sticky to your hands, or the board, but no more. So keep adding a little flour until it is just right.
Once the dough is the right consistency, form it into a large ball.
Put a clean dish cloth over it, and let it rest and rise for an hour. It should about double in size.
Then Mother uses her lethal marble rolling pin to roll the dough out in a rectangle.
She pours a lot of walnuts (one cup? two?) and spreads them out. Then she rolls the dough up like a jelly roll.
Then she cuts this with a large knife into 3 or 4 segments.

She gently pinches the ends of each segment to close the walnuts in.
She works each segment into an oval loaf shape, being careful not to let the walnuts squeeze out.
Then she slits each loaf several times, so the dough won't break open as it rises a second time. She used to put the loaves into loaf pans to bake, but now she bakes them as they are, on a baking stone all together.
She bakes them at 400º for 10 minutes, and then at 350º for 30 minutes, or until the loaves are well browned.
This is a healthy, sturdy bread. And the honey in it makes it last so much longer than most homemade breads. I hope some of you will try this recipe; the results are so worth it! Toast it for breakfast and put butter on it. So delicious with a cup of hot tea!

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