A base. A vehicle. A stand-alone wonder.
Or rather, your mom’s homemade bread. Refined day after day with constant altering, adjusting, and tasting.
You see, the kitchen of my childhood more often than not smelled of yeast, flour, molasses–warmth. You know that smell? The wave the moment after turning the cool knob and leaning in to the door–able to barrel through school, stress, new experiences and lost innocence weighing you down to make room for complete welcoming and accepting, with a hint of honey.
My mom is maybe the only person, ever, to wear out a bread maker. Literally using it everyday until it doesn’t work any more. Each loaf was eaten and diced/baked into croutons the same day. Normally only a delicacy added to my parents’ romantic candlelight dinner side-salads, asking for the lightly herbed croutons was maybe a monthly request for us kids, so as not to overextend our welcome into what seemed ‘adult-territory’.
These loaves began in my memory white flecked by herbs, but after years some spices weren’t quite spicy enough to keep it interesting. Her hands kneaded in soups (especially carrot ginger), turning bread flour-colored to orange; taking the flavor to a new universe.
Years of throwing disparate sides of the pantry together seamlessly crowned her a magician in my eyes.
Her last combination was, in my opinion, her best and most grand finale. Her bread-making has passed in the past few years, but her final variation was a whole wheat that I absolutely need. Every bad day, paired with any dish–it is there for me, waiting in all its glory to be dipped, pulled apart, but always landing on my eager taste buds.
Mama’s Whole Wheat Bread
yield: one loaf
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 cup milk or water (we normally use almond milk)
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup ground flaxseed
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup oats
- 2 ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 3 teaspoons yeast
- If using a bread maker:
- place all ingredients in bread maker in order of appearance on the list above–wet below dry, making an indent in the flour for the yeast
- set in bread maker and begin, checking at 20 minute increments for the first hour or so to be sure all is coming together and dough is neither too sticky or too tough
- if too sticky, add additional tablespoons of flour at a time
- if too tough, add tablespoons more milk, or water
- If baking in an oven:
- preheat oven to 200 degrees F
- place all ingredients in a bowl and knead for at least 5 minutes, adding more liquid if needed
- place towel over bowl, turn off oven, and let dough rise for 40 minutes in warm oven
- knead dough again for at least 3 minutes, reheating the oven to 200 while doing so
- let dough rise again with a towel over the bowl for 40 more minutes
- bake bread in an oiled dish at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is hard and the middle is cooked through
- since this bread is so dense, I cut the loaf in half when it looks done to check if the inside needs more time
- if it does need more time, place tin foil over the top so it doesn’t burn
best if served and consumed right away (even if it is a little nibble off the end piece–I do it too ;])
speaking of the end piece (the butt), it is the hidden gem of this loaf. i’m telling you, there is no better piece
also, this bread is really a disguised sponge–dip it in any soup or spread and enjoy the explosive combination of warm, subtly sweet with your dip of choice