In my opinion, homemade bread is something we can hang on to that keeps us connected to the past and makes the present a little less stressful. Here’s one of my favorite recipes.
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
6 cups wheat flour
5 cups white flour
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup molasses
6 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons salt
2/3 cup dry milk
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and proof. Add ginger and sugar. Mix together 4 cups warm water, molasses, brown sugar, butter, salt and dry milk. Add yeast mixture to this. Then add flours alternately one cup at a time until stiff dough is formed. Knead 15 minutes. Let rise until doubled.
Put into 4 loaf pans and let rise again until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
NOTES: I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made this bread. I cut the recipe in half since eleven cups of flour would cause my mixer to go crazy. And I play with the spice. I’ve doubled the ginger, substituted cardamon, and I might try anise and allspice. If you do cut the recipe down, remember to cut all the ingredients. The first time, I forgot to cut the water in half. I couldn’t figure out why it was taking so much flour to stiffen up.
Baking bread is therapeutic for me. I use my mixer with a dough hook to mix and knead the dough. But I’ve got to get my hands on the dough, so I finish kneading by hand. I don’t know if the bread likes it but I do. Kneading bread dough just feels good. Maybe it touches those genetic wires of my Finnish grandmother and great-grandmother, baking bread for the family.
Baking bread is creative. Once you get a little experience, knowing what the various flours and ingredients will do, you can experiment—creating bread that’s uniquely yours. My brother-in-law coached me. I made “Gary’s Bread” many times with “herbs of choice.”
This Whole Wheat Bread recipe is special to me since I first enjoyed it on the high seas off the coast of Maine, sailing on the Stephen Taber with Capts. Ken and Ellen Barnes. Ellen Barnes was kind enough to give me permission to reprint her recipe. A Taste of the Taber: Classic Maine Coastal Cooking by Ellen Barnes, copyright 1990.
Click on this link to see Capt. Ellen in action cooking. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f7Ah2yG0xU
And on this link to see Capts. Ken and Ellen Barnes on their historic sailing vessel, the Stephen Taber. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVQjd7tj1b0 We sailed with them twice—an unforgettable experience. The Taber is now owned and sailed by the Barnes’s son and his wife, Capt. Noah and Jane Barnes. https://www.stephentaber.com No doubt they’re still serving Ellen’s Whole Wheat Bread, baked in a vintage wood-burning cookstove in the pine-clad galley.