It’s a gorgeous day in October, the sky is brilliant blue, the trees are resplendent with living jewels of red, yellow and orange, and the air smells wonderful. The sun is bright and the wind is cold, and it’s a great day to make some cold weather comfort food. The following is my favorite bread recipe, Shredded Wheat Bread.
1 large shredded wheat biscuits, crumbled
1/2 stick margerine
1/2 t. salt
1/3 cup molasses (or maple syrup)
1/3 cup either sugar or honey (I use agave myself, so if you do, make it a little over half of a third of a cup)
Mix all ingredients together, then pour 2 cups of boiling water over it and stir. When the mix is lukewarm, add 2 packages of dry *yeast and mix well. Now mix in 5 cups of flour (you can do half wheat and half white if you like, or all of one or the other. I like using just wheat flour myself). At this point it’s easier to mix it with your hands. It will look like there is way too much flour, but if you are patient, you can slowly but surely get it all to mix together.
Put the mixture onto a floured surface–you may have to do the final mixing on the floured surface–but that’s ok. Now you can knead it. If you’ve never done this before, don’t panic. (There is probably a YouTube video about how to do this, so you might start there.) Start with one hand and push the dough down carefully, then repeat with the other hand. Your goal is to get the bread to start getting an elastic texture; this is the gluten in the flour coming into play.
Once you have a lumpy sort of elastic-y ball of dough, put it into a good-sized bowl you’ve either sprayed with cooking spray, or rubbed with a bit of oil. (I should tell you that the oil or spray goes INSIDE the bowl, not outside!) Cover the dough with a clean dish towel, and let it rise until the dough is about double its size (generally about 30-45 minutes).
Punch the dough down while it’s in the bowl, then turn it out onto the floured surface. Flatten it down so that you can slice it in half. Take each half and flatten it down more, then roll it jellyroll-style. Tuck the ends of the roll under, then place it into an oiled or sprayed loaf pan. If you like, you can brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter. Cover the loaves with the towel and let them rise again. PLEASE NOTE: this is not a high-rising bread, so don’t think that you’ve failed if the loaves barely rise to the top of the loaf pans.
Put the loaves into a 375 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes. The best way to tell if the loaves are baked enough is to thump the tops with your knuckle. It should feel firm. Since you oiled the pans, it should be pretty easy to turn the pans over and pop the loaves out onto a rack (putting then on the rack allows the bread to cool evenly).
Let them cool to where you can cut a slice without howling in pain, and have some good-quality butter ready to smear on the bread, eat and enjoy.
*You don’t have to be afraid of yeast, just respect it. It doesn’t like too hot or too cold temps, so here’s what I do: empty the 2 packages into about 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Mix well, and then add it to the shredded wheat mixture.