Enjoy this modern recipe.
2 1/2 cups very warm water
1 envelope dry yeast
1 heaping tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup dry milk or dry buttermilk
3 to 4 cups whole wheat flour
3 to 4 cups white all-purpose or bread flour
Nourishing whole grain breads formed a very important component of the diet of both rich and poor in 18th-century America. Here's how to make a modern adaptation:
Wash off and dry a counter-top area for kneading. With a fork, mix water, honey and yeast in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Add butter and let stand while lining up the remaining ingredients. Stir in salt, wheat germ, cornmeal, and dry milk. Then start adding whole wheat flour directly from the bag, mixing until the batter is the consistency of pudding. Exact measurement of flour is not important; the volume of water determines the volume of dough. In this receipt, the proportion of whole wheat to white flour is roughly 50/50, and the total volume added may vary with temperature, humidity or brand of flour used. Now add white flour directly from the bag, mixing until batter is dry and hard to stir.
Scrape out onto the counter, add more white flour and begin to knead. Push hard, using the heels of both palms, turning and folding the dough ball. Add more flour periodically until dough becomes firm, resilient and sweet-smelling it should no longer stick to your hands and should feel silky and pleasing to the touch. Keep on kneading hard 8 to 10 minutes; you cannot over-knead at this point. Put dough back in bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature until about doubled in bulk, 45 to 90 minutes. (Timing varies with temperature and humidity also.) Scrape out again and knead lightly about 10 times to break the large bubbles. Do not over-knead at this point.
Grease 2 standard (8x4 inch) loaf pans with butter, not oil. Divide dough and roll gently into loaves. Put into pans. pressing lightly into corners. Allow to rise until tops are above rims of pans, 45 to 90 minutes. Do not jostle pans during final rising. Place very gently in a preheated 375-degree oven and bake 55 minutes. Remove immediately from pans and cool on a wire rack until completely cooled to room temperature. Seal in plastic bags. This bread needs no refrigeration for at least 3 days.
Yields 2 loaves
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