Growing up, I remember lots of homemade breads. There were some made by hand, then there was that time when my dad tried out a bread machine. But at some point, my mom got diagnosed with celiac disease and most of the homemade carbs had to stop.
After being deprived for years of that amazing smell of bread rising and then baking, I have brought back one of my favorites-whole wheat orange bread. You could say I am a little obsessed. I give it as a house warming gift, I’ve given it as a get well gift, and really I just look for any excuse to make it. The bread has just enough sweet that all you need to do is toast it and spread a little butter on top. It’s perfect with a big cup of coffee or a smoothie in the morning before work.
All things considered, it’s pretty easy. As long as you’re not afraid to do some kneading, you should be all set.
2 cups water
4 tablespoons butter
4 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
Grated rind of 1 orange (the easiest way to do this is with a cheese grater, and I’d do it before you start the recipe)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1. Melt the butter in the water on the stove. You want to do it just until the butter starts to melt. Then set it aside.
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine 2 cups of the white flour, yeast, and brown sugar (you can do this by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer). I would recommend using the paddle attachment to get started. Next, add the water and butter mixture, honey, egg, and orange rind. After these items have mixed, add the rest of the white flour and whole wheat flour. I generally try to use the paddle as long as possible because it mixes the best, but at some point, my mixer seems to rebel and I replace the paddle with the bread hook. I let it go with the bread attachment for two to four minutes, or as long as it takes to mix (sometimes there might still be a bit of loose flour at the bottom you have to mix in manually).
3. Although I love my stand mixer, it still can’t replace kneading by hand. So after two to four minutes in the mixer, I take the dough out and knead it by hand. I do this on a wood cutting board dusted with flour. You want it to be smooth by the time you are done kneading (see below).
4. Now, you want to lightly butter a bowl. Wipe the dough around the bowl, covering it in butter, and then place it in the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand until it has doubled in bulk. This will generally take around two hours and you want it to be in a warm place for this time. If you’re doing other cooking or baking, you can place it close to the stove. If not, just try to find the warmest place in your house or apartment, where you can check it often (and smell it!). See the start and finish below.
5. Once the dough has doubled in size, you want to take it out of the bowl and knead it lightly for about one to two minutes. Then place the dough back in the bowl, cover it, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
6. Now you can take the dough out and shape it into two loaves. I generally use a knife to cut it in half. Place it in two buttered bread pans. Cover these two pans with a dish towel, place in a warm spot, and let it rise for another hour. Once it has risen it should look like this:
7. Once it has risen again, you can preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the bread for 45 minutes. I have never used glass bread pans, but if you did, you would probably need to lower the temperature to 350 degrees.
Now enjoy the finished product…