This is a recipe based on handwritten notes from my grandmother, who ran a lakefront resort in Northern Wisconsin. Unfortunately, her recipe didn’t specify actual ingredient measurements — in retrospect, she may have felt she didn’t need documentation due to the sheer volume of made-from-scratch bread she produced each week in that old maple-fired wood stove.
I have tried to recreate her recipe by working with measurements from King Arthur Flour’s website, but their recipes use four cups of flour which produce a much larger loaf (hey, they are in the business of selling flour.) As a result, my initial tests produced a very dense loaf that invariably fell flat.
After several failed attempts, I now have a very close rendition to her amazing bread. This loaf is excellent when served as toast, and has a wonderfully-textured crumb. Enjoy – this bread brings back so many great memories of my Northwoods childhood.
2 cups sifted King Arthur® white bread flour
1 cup sifted Hodgson Mill® whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup lukewarm filtered water
2 tsp. quick-rise baker’s yeast
2 tbs. honey
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbs. room-temperature salted butter
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk granules
Carefully sift and measure the flour, then level. Do not pack by tapping the measuring cup, or your loaf will be too dense. Combine with the other dry ingredients in a food processor fitted with a dough blade. Turn on the processor and slowly add the warm water. When the ingredients start to pull away from the bowl surface, stop. Remove the dough and place on a very lightly-floured work surface and continue to knead for one minute. The dough should be very elastic and only slightly tacky. Form it into a round ball.
Place the dough ball in a greased 8-cup mixing bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set your timer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
When the dough has risen, remove and very gently punch down. Form into a log that will fit a standard greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. (I highly recommend Lodge cast-iron for its even heat distribution; you’ll get a much better crust.) Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and set aside again for one hour.
While the dough is in the second rise, preheat your oven to 350-degrees F.
After the second rise, the dough should expand to about 1 inch above the top of the loaf pan and spring back when touched.
Place the loaf pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, uncovered. An accurate instant-read thermometer should read 195-200-degrees F. in the center, when done. The crust should be an even golden-brown.
Remove promptly from the pan and allow the loaf to cool completely on a wire baker’s rack. Wrap in a plastic bag, or cut and serve for immediate use.
Makes 1 standard loaf.
For white bread: Substitute 1 cup white flour for the wheat flour.
You can place the dough in a non-heated oven with the oven light turned on. This will create a warm environment that aids in a more consistent rise.
This is very helpful in colder months when ambient room temperatures may affect the result.
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