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Showing off the beautiful crumb of this bread, generously sliced.

We’re hosting this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe from Baking With Julia along with Michele of veggie num nums. Thanks to Laurie and Jules for the opportunity. Hosting means we’re allowed to share the recipe, which you will find at the end of this post. May it inspire you to buy the book, if you haven’t already.

For many people, the Platonic Form of bread, the one that you’d draw or describe if you were asked, is a white loaf. My mother was never a fan of white bread and we grew up eating brown bread most of the time. So, this week’s loaf matches my conception of bread’s Platonic ideal perfectly.

Perfectly browned loaves, ready to cut.

Though I’m eager to learn all the variations on bread that this group has to offer, there’s something uniquely satisfying about a thick slice of homemade sandwich bread. It’s just as satisfying to make as it is to eat and the sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing perfect loaves cooling on their racks feels as though it resonates all the way back to the earliest bakers.

My nieces did most of the hands-on work for this recipe, each turning out one of the loaves. We gave the loaves an egg wash before putting them into the oven, which gave them a nice sheen once baked. We also substituted molasses for the malt extract, as we couldn’t track any down in time for our baking session. (Scheduling is a big part of our monthly Tuesdays With Dorie process, as you might imagine.) I think the molasses worked well to bring out the bread’s flavour and it certainly helped to create the lovely aroma of the bread. That aroma made it hard not to cut into a loaf right away.

We actually waited until morning, toasting the bread and slathering it with butter and marmalade. It was worth the wait. The bread has a delicate, chewy crumb, but it’s also strong enough to stand up to a lot of slathering.

The bread, ready to eat.

There will be artisanal breads, flatbreads, and rolls showing up in our posts over the next few years, but I suspect that this bread will be one of the ones revisited most often in our kitchens. I’m also sure that the making of these simple loaves by the girls will be one of the experiences we look back on most fondly, long after we’ve finished working our way through the book. It’s those foundational experiences that enable us to make more difficult creative leaps, after all.

Whole Wheat Loaves
from Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan

There’s just enough honey and malt in this recipe to bring out the natural sweetness of the loaf’s whole wheat flour. A tall crowned loaf with some chew and stretch in the crumb, this bread has the flavour and heft to stand up to strong cheeses and spicy cold cuts, making it first-class sandwich fare. Like the White Loaves (page 81), these are good loaves for bread-baking tyros: The techniques are basic, the rewards many.

Makes two 1-3/4 pound loaves
2-1/4 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
3-1/2 to 3-2/3 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon malt extract
1 tablespoon salt

Mixing and Kneading Pour 1/2 cup of the water into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the yeast and honey. Whisk to blend and allow the mixture to rest until the yeast is creamy, about 5 minutes.

Combine 3-1/2 cups of the bread flour and the whole wheat flour and keep it close at hand.

Working in the mixer with the dough hook in place, add the remaining 1-3/4 cups water, the oil, malt extract, and about half of the flour mixture to the yeast. Turn the mixer on and off a few times just to get the dough going without having the flour fly all over the counter and then, mixing on low speed, add the rest of the combined flours. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat, stopping to scrape down the bowl and hook as needed, until the dough comes together. (If the dough does not come together, add up to 2 tablespoons more white flour.) Add the salt and continue to beat and knead at medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you prefer, you can mix the dough in the machine for half the time and knead it by hand on a lightly floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes. As with many whole wheat doughs, this one will be a tad sticky even after proper and sufficient kneading.

First Rise Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Place it in a large buttered or oiled bowl (one big enough to hold double the amount of dough). Turn the dough around to cover its entire surface with butter or oil, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature until it doubles in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.

Shaping the Dough Butter two 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch loaf pans and set them aside.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and, using the palms of your hands and fingertips, or a rolling pin, pat each half into a large rectangle about 9 inches wide and 12 inches long, with a short side facing you. Starting at the top, fold the dough about two thirds of the way down the rectangle, then fold again so that the top edge meets the bottom edge; seal the seam by pinching it. Turn each roll so that the seam is in the centre of the roll, facing up, and turn the ends of each roll in just enough so that the rolls fit in the loaf pans. Pinch these seams to seal, turn the loaves over so that the seams are on the bottom, and plump the loaves with your palms to get an even shape.

Second Rise Drop the loaves into the buttered pans, seam side down, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and allow them to rise at room temperature until they double in size again, growing over the tops of the pans, about 1 hour.

While the breads rise, centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.

Baking the Bread When the breads are fully risen (poke your finger into a bread; the impression should remain), bake for about 35 minutes, or until they are golden and an instant-read thermometer plunged into the centre of the bread (turn a loaf out and plunge the thermometer through the bottom of the bread) measures 200°F. (If you like, 10 minutes or so before you think the loaves should come out, you can turn the loaves out of their pans and let them bake on the oven racks so they brown on the sides.) Remove the loaves from their pans as soon as they come from the oven and cool the breads on racks. These should not be cut until they are almost completely cool.

Storing Once completely cool, the breads can be kept in a brown paper bag for a day or two. Once a loaf is sliced, turn it cut side down on the counter or a cutting board and cover with a kitchen towel. For longer storage, wrap the breads airtight and freeze for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Contributing Baker Craig Kominiak

The loaves, ready to cut.

Our co-host this week is Michele. You can find everyone’s links here: Whole Wheat Loaves