I don't know about you, but so far Healthy Week has been pretty tasty. I could seriously get used to this! And today not only carries on in that yummy tradition but takes it a step further into what I like to call, life-changing territory. Melodramatic? Maybe. But once you taste a bite of this divinely chewy, crusty, fluffy, good-for-you, No-Fuss Honey Whole-Wheat Bread and realize that you can pretty much whip it up anytime, you too will understand the mysteries of the universe. Melodrama? Ha!!
Seriously, this bread is perfection. And for so many reasons. First and foremost, it tastes fantastic! Really! Slightly sweet from that touch of honey with a light, almost delicate crumb and encased in an addictively crunchy crust, it's everything you want homemade bread to be. Just look at that amazingly nubby crust!
Second, it's ridiculously easy to make and pretty much foolproof. The whole thing takes 10 minutes max to put together (there's no kneading involved) and then just a couple of hours of rising time. I generally make it once a week and it has never let me down.
Then there's the heavenly smell in your kitchen. Major bonus points for that!
And finally but not any less important, there's the healthiness factor. With more and more of the food we buy loaded with preservatives and artificial ingredients that do who knows what to our bodies, I really like knowing that the bread we eat is entirely natural and low in stuff like sodium and sugar. I know that baking all your family's bread seems like a huge commitment, but with breads like this one and this peasant loaf and this brioche (and I'll share the others I rotate in and out soon), you'll see that the ease of them makes it manageable to bake a couple of loaves a week even when you're busy. Once you get into the routine, the taste of homemade bread is just so spectacular that there'll be no going back. I promise that you and your family will love it! My last piece of advice: start heavily investing in yeast!!!
No-Fuss Honey Whole-Wheat Bread
Makes 2 loaves
You will need two 1-quart oven-safe glass bowls for this (I use Pyrex)
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Rise Time: About 2 hours; Bake Time: 45-50 minutes
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1/3 cup cornmeal (I use the medium-grind kind)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- Unsalted, softened butter for greasing the bowls
1. Whisk the white, whole-wheat flour, cornmeal, salt and instant yeast together in a large bowl. Into a different, small bowl, pour the honey and then add the boiling water, stirring well to dissolve the honey. Stir in the cold water and mix well to combine. Then add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl and use a large rubber spatula to blend everything together until all of the liquid is absorbed and you are left with a rather sticky dough clump. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and place somewhere warm for about 1- 1/1/2 hours until the dough has doubled in bulk. If your kitchen is really cold, you can put your oven on to 220º or 225º F and set the bowl on top of or near the oven to help the rising process.
2. Preheat oven to 375ºF, making sure rack is centered in the oven. Generously butter two 1-quart oven-safe glass bowls with the softened butter and set aside. Use two forks to deflate the dough by scraping it away from the sides of the bowl and pulling it towards the center, turning the bowl as you go so that you are left with a rough ball of dough. Now use the forks to split the dough down the middle and use the forks to plop each dough half into one of the prepared bowls. Return the bowls to the same warm spot and let rise for another 20 minutes, until the dough just about reaches the tops of the bowls.
3. Bake the bowls for about 45-50 minutes, until the bread is golden brown all over. Remove from the oven, turn out onto wire racks and let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Bread will technically keep at room temperature, well wrapped for up to one week, but ours never lasts that long.
Note: Recipe adapted from Bread Toast Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford. I cook my loaves about 10 minutes longer than she suggests. If I don't, they turn out gummy inside, but all ovens are different so check your loaves at the 40 minute mark to make sure they are not getting overdone.