This recipe makes two loaves in the time and effort it takes to make one, so you can store a loaf in the freezer, or give one to someone else. Whenever I make this recipe, I give one to a neighbor who laments, as I do, the sorry state of quality baked goods available in our small town. For my money, the best way to enjoy a slice of this bread is to toast it and top it with peanut butter and a generous helping of raspberry jam.
Cracked Wheat-Honey Bread
Makes 2 loaves
Adapted from a recipe from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup buttermilk or milk
- ¼ cup honey or molasses
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup fine or medium bulgur (cracked wheat), soaked in warm water for 10-15 minutes, then drained well
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2-3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
- ½ cup sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts, optional
- Combine ¼ cup warm water with the sugar and yeast in a small bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes. Line two 8.5” x 4.5” bread pans with parchment, or brush with oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1 cup of hot water, buttermilk/milk, honey/molasses, oil and salt. Add the yeast mixture and the cracked wheat, then begin mixing in the flours. Once the dough has come together, transfer to a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, adding flour as needed. In the last minute or two of kneading, add in the sunflower seeds or nuts, if using, and knead until distributed throughout the dough. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, tacky but not sticky, place it in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise until doubled in size – about an hour.Alternatively, use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead the dough. Combine the yeast, water, and sugar in the mixer bowl and let sit until frothy. Then add in the remaining ingredients, except the seeds or nuts, if using. Turn on the mixer at slow speed to start so you don’t decorate yourself and the kitchen in flour, then increase the speed to medium. Push down the dough several times and add flour as needed to achieve an elastic, tacky but not sticky texture – about 6 minutes. Add in the seeds or nuts, and mix further to incorporate them into the dough. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise until doubled in size – about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375-degrees F. Punch down the dough, take it out of the bowl and divide in half. Shape into loaves* and place in prepared pans. Spritz tops with oil, cover and let rise until puffed above the top of the pans – 30-40 minutes.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until nicely browned. I take the loaves out of the pan at about 35 minutes, then place directly on the oven rack to brown the bottoms.
*To create braided loaves, divide each half into three pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-12” rope. Take the three ropes and braid them, pinching the ends and tucking them under. Carefully place into a pan and repeat the process with the remaining three pieces of dough.