Whether you make this bread from store-bought whole wheat flour or from whole wheat flour you’ve ground yourself at home, the results should yield a warm, delicious, sweet-smelling loaf of bread. If you prefer a lighter loaf, substitute one or two cups of unbleached white bread flour for the whole wheat flour. Any way you look at it, the secret to a good, light loaf of bread is kneading to develop the gluten strands fully. Because I love the smell and flavor of freshly ground wheat, I often make the bread with no additions, but you can add any herb that appeals to you. An aromatic fresh herb butter or freshly made jam puts the icing on the cake. MAKES 2 (9-INCH) LOAVES
• 2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 teaspoons instant yeast*
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 11⁄4 cups water
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1⁄3 cup fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
1. Place whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a food processor bowl; pulse 3 to 4 times until combined.
2. Add water and oil; process until dough forms a ball and leaves sides of bowl, adding more water, if necessary. Process about 45 seconds.
3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, gradually kneading in oregano. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to oil top. Cover bowl with waxed paper and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
4. Punch dough down and shape into a loaf. Place in a lightly greased 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Cover with waxed paper and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) free from drafts, about 45 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Note: We used a combination of flours to get a lighter texture, as suggested in the text.
* See where to buy instant yeast here, and find instructions for substituting dry yeast below.
Garlic Chive Butter
Filled with the flavors and aroma of garlic, this butter goes well with almost any savory bread, to say nothing of topping fettucine or steamed fresh veggies.
• 1 stick softened butter
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
• About 1 clove garlic
• 1 teaspoon Society garlic blossoms
1. Using a garlic press, press the clove of garlic into the butter.
2. In a bowl or a food processor fitted with the dough blade, pulse or gently stir or process the ingredients just until mixed.
3. Place the butter in a crock or small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
4. Serve with Whole Wheat Oregano Bread.
Lynn Alley is a food, wine and travel writer who lives in Southern California. She has written five cookbooks, including The Gourmet Slow Cooker (Ten Speed Press, 2003), and has a sixth, 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker (Andrews McMeel, 2011), just out.
Click here for the main article, Baking Homemade Herbed Bread.