I'm not even joking when I say that I dreamed about this bread. I kind of wish I was joking, because then I would sound less crazy. Does anyone else literally dream about food? Anyway, a few nights ago I had a dream that I was eating the most glorious soft wheat bread, smothered with orange flavored honey butter. And it was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted! I woke up and told Geoff about my dream, and asked what he thought it meant. He said, "Um, duh... that you should make wheat bread with honey butter." And so I did!
I've struggled for a long time to find a wheat bread recipe that my family likes, that's easy to make, and that doesn't have any weird ingredients (you know, like wheat germ or xanthan gum). I know my family won't tolerate 100% whole wheat, so I've tried to find a good 50/50 recipe that had some of the goodness of whole wheat bread while still maintaining the softness of white bread. And this recipe is it! It is perfectly soft and smooth, but holds together well enough to make great sandwiches. And it makes three good-sized loaves, which means I can put the extras in the freezer and always have yummy homemade bread on hand.
I read somewhere that honey butter is kind of a Utah thing, and I don't know if that's true. If it is, it shouldn't be. Honey butter is just marvelous, in my opinion! And the addition of orange zest and vanilla... holy amazing. Make it! Now! That's all I can say.
Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread
adapted from Kitchen Simplicity
3 cups warm water
2 (.25 oz) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour (I used all purpose)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3+ cups whole wheat flour
after it’s baked:
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Mix together warm water, yeast, and honey. stir in the white bread flour until evenly combined. Let sit for 30 minutes, until risen and bubbly. Mix the melted butter, remaining honey, and salt into the sponge. Stir in 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Knead in enough flour until the dough is smooth and tacky but not overly sticky. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, place the dough in the bowl and spray the top of the dough with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 hour). Once risen, punch down the dough and divide it into 3 equal loaves. Place each into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and allow to rise until the dough has topped the pans by one inch (about an hour).
Bake at 350º F for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Brush the tops of the loaves with 1 tablespoons melted butter to prevent the crust from getting hard. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely before storing in plastic bags.
Orange Vanilla Honey Butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (I used a clementine because that's all I had)
Add all ingredients to a small bowl, and whisk until combined. Store in refrigerator.
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