Some recipes just connect me with the past…relatives, generations, friends, even characters from books I have never actually met except through their story. Every time I get my hands in sticky, fragrant whole wheat bread dough I am transported to a large farm kitchen, somewhere in the Midwest, with checked curtains and cows grazing in the distance. I could be Caroline Ingalls, or Caddie Woodlawn’s mom, or any of a million other women who have created something from almost nothing and kept their families well fed down through the ages.
I am not a feminist by any means, nor am I much more than a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, but it seems to me that there is a magic in that ability that working at a keyboard will never capture. There is a confidence and satisfaction that you can’t get from a paycheck, a business meeting, or even being a size six.
Bread is made often in our kitchen, by myself or one of my daughters. We will easily go through a loaf a meal and so it is not a weekly job but a daily one. Molasses as the only sweetener in this hearty loaf gives it a special sweetness and a fragrant scent that lingers in the kitchen for the day. If you are going to take the time to make a really good bread, take the time to get a really good organic flour. There is a difference.
If you are new to bread making and kneading then use unbleached white flour for half of the whole wheat flour. It will help you to create a better load from the beginning. Whole wheat is difficult to manage until you are used to the stickiness of it.
Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread
4 c potato water, lukewarm
2 pkgs dry yeast
Dissolve the yeast in the water and let stand for 5 minutes
1/4 c Grandma’s unsulfured molasses
1 tbs fine sea salt
1/4 c melted butter
7-8 cups of whole wheat flour or a mix of whole wheat and unbleached white.
Add all ingredients to the yeast mixture. Add 3 cups of flour and mix well. Let stand 20 minutes.
Stir down and add enough of the rest of the flour to make a dough that leaves the sides of the bowl. Knead by hand for 10 minutes or with your mixer and bread paddles for 3-5. If mixing with mixer be sure to finish the kneading by hand..there really is no substitute.
After kneading dough should be elastic, smooth, slightly sticky and springy. Form into a ball, oil and put in a large oiled bowl covered with a tea towel to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours,or until double.
Form into 3 loaves, place in greased bread pans and allow to rise for 1 hours,or until almost double. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Turn out and cool completely.
Makes 3 loaves