Whether due to pure tastiness or a boost of nostalgia, this is probably my favorite bread recipe. I learned to bake bread by helping in my Grandma’s kitchen on the weekends when I was young, and this is the whole wheat recipe that we made. I think it can be enjoyed even by people who don’t typically like whole wheat bread – only about a sixth of the flour in the original recipe is whole wheat, and the honey and sugar give it a pleasing sweetness.
The recipe also has a distinctive secret ingredient: Cottage Cheese!
The original recipe, which makes two standard-size loaves of bread, calls for:
- 1 1/2 c water
- 1 c cottage cheese
- 1/2 c honey
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
- 5 1/2 c all purpose flour
- 2 packages dried yeast
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 2 tsp salt
Since both of my loaf pans are larger than standard size, I multiplied the quantities of everything but the yeast and egg by 1.5 so that I had enough dough to rise above the tops of the pans. (I probably could have done *1.33, but 1.5 was easier.)
First, combine the water, cottage cheese, honey, and butter in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the butter is just melted.
To avoid killing the yeast, you’ll want to make sure the temperature of the cottage cheese mixture is below 115 F. If you keep the heat low enough so that the butter melts gradually, it should be fine – mine came out at 108 F.
While the cottage cheese mixture was heating, I put together a mise en place with the remaining ingredients:
I wanted a slightly higher percentage of whole wheat flour than the recipe called for, so I increased the whole wheat flour by 1 1/2 cups, and decreased the all-purpose flour by the same amount. In the mise en place I’ve set aside a quarter of the of AP flour for kneading; the rest of the flour (whole wheat + AP) is mixed together in the large bowl.
Also, a note about the yeast – you’ll see various advice about how long yeast will last past the expiration date. I buy mine in bulk from King Arthur Flour and store it in the freezer. The package I currently have was originally purchased over four years ago – October 2005! – and it’s still going strong. So even if you only use yeast a few times a year, buying in bulk and storing in the freezer may be more convenient and cost effective than buying individual packets.
I combined the flour mixture, yeast, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, then added the cottage cheese mixture and egg. I mixed these until combined, then turned out onto a kneading mat and added half the reserved flour:
After I kneaded in the portion of reserved flour, I split the dough in hlaf to rise in separate containers. For the standard size recipe you can divide the dough later, and probably by hand instead of weighing the portions, but I had a large batch of dough and a fun kitchen scale, so I weighed it out:
As you can see in the next picture, my dough weighed 2.6 kilograms – about 5 3/4 pounds!
I put each half of the dough into a mixing bowl, covered them with plastic wrap, and let them rise for about 2 hours (until approximately doubled in size).
After the first rise, I took each piece of dough, deflated it, and kneaded in its half of the remaining flour.
I then returned the dough to the mixing bowl, and let it rise again until doubled, about 1.5 hours:
I then shaped the dough into cylinders to fit the loaf pans, covered with plastic wrap again, and let rise a final time while I preheated the oven to 350F:
After about 40 minutes, the dough was well clear of the pan rims:
I then put it in the oven at 350F; my large loaves took a little over an hour to bake thoroughly, but standard size loaves will likely finish sooner and should be checked after 45 minutes.
The finished bread had a rich brown crust – the dark spots are the cottage cheese curds – and the crumb was similar to a dense sandwich bread – not spongy, but soft and close-crumbed, with a thick, slightly crispy crust.
The sweetness of the bread doesn’t pair well with some savory applications – I wouldn’t make a fried-egg or pastrami sandwich with it, for example – but this bread is perfect with peanut butter and jelly, or toasted with butter and/or jam.
This is my fourth submission to YeastSpotting, the inspirational weekly compendium of bread baking blogs hosted at the Wild Yeast blog.