Thursday, March 26, 2009

Helen's Health Bread

Almost every time I make bread, Mr. ValleyWriter says we should get the recipe for his great-grandmother's famous bread—officially titled "Helen's Health Bread." Unfortunately, the recipe was MIA for a couple of years. But after we bought Mr. ValleyWriter's dad a breadmaker for Christmas, the recipe found it's way out of it's dark hiding spot and we finally have a copy.

I've never actually made bread by hand before, always preferring the ease of the breadmaker. But the recipe for Helen's Health Bread came only with by-hand instructions. And those instructions were to make 3 loaves—more dough than my bread machine could probably handle. Since I've never adapted a regular recipe for the bread machine before—and I'd never even had this bread before to know what it should end up like—I was in totally uncharted territory.

Despite Mr. ValleyWriter's concerns about my RA - I set about making a batch of the bread by hand - kneading and all. (And more proof that my meds are really working - the kneading wasn't that bad!) I cut the recipe in half to make 1 large loaf (in a 10 inch loaf pan). It took a few hours from start to finish, but in the end, Mr. ValleyWriter declared the house smelled like Grandma's and the bread came out just as it should - a hearty, slightly sweet whole-grain bread.

I'm going to share the by-hand recipe for now and may post an update if/when I figure out how to adapt it for the bread machine. Please let me know if you have any tips or tricks to share!

Helen's Health Bread
(Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves)

1 1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. dry milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. shortening
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. maple molasses (this can be made by boiling down approximately 1/2 c. maple syrup - or you can just use plain maple syrup)
1/2 Tbsp. active dry yeast, dissolved in 2 Tbsp. warm water sprinkled with 1/4 tsp. sugar
2 to 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp. toasted wheat germ

Mix boiling water, dry milk, shortening, salt, oats and maple molasses together in a large bowl. Let cool until a drop of the mixture placed on the inside of your wrist feels neither hot nor cold. Stir in the dissolved yeast.
Beat in 1 c. white flour and all of the whole wheat flour and wheat germ.
Continue adding white flour until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and is no longer sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured bread board and knead for 10 minutes. (If you find the dough is still too sticky when you turn it out, you can knead in more white flour.)
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.
Let rise in a warm place until dough is doubled in size.
Pour the dough out onto a well-floured board again and knead for another 10 minutes.
Shape into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan.
Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size again.
Place in a cold oven, turn the heat on to 400 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes.
Remove from pan immediately and allow to cool before cutting.


LK- Healthy Delicious said...

this looks good! did it taste maple-y at all?

ValleyWriter said...

Surprisingly, you can't taste the maple one bit. I was hoping I'd be able to - but I suppose *not* being able to makes this a more well-rounded bread.