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Whole Wheat Bread- American Woman’s Cookbook

Whole wheat bread

This cookbook makes my heart float! Not only does it contain numerous colored pictures (a novelty in 1939), it also has step-by-step instructions and tips for novices! Making homemade bread has been a goal of mine for quite some time. While this is my second attempt at the art (the first was a rather successful Rye Loaf for St. Pattie’s Day), it is my first time using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I approached the task with trepidation but needn’t have. With the help of The American Woman’s Cookbook and Kitchen Aid’s instructions, I found the only thing easier would have been having a loaf delivered!

 

Whole Wheat Bread

2 cups scalded milk [I used 2%]

2-4 T sugar [I used 4 T]

1-2 T shortening [I used 2 T]

1 ½ t salt

1 yeast cake softened in ½ c warm water

5 cups whole-wheat flour

2 to 3 cups white flour – enough to make a medium stiff dough

 

General Directions for Making Bread:

Scald ALL LIQUIDS to ensure destruction of micro-organisms which might interfere with the action of the yeast plant. [Note: While Pasteur made this step irrelevant, it is best to warm the liquids so the following steps work]

ADD FAT SUGAR AND SALT to the hot liquid and let it cool until it is lukewarm. [Note: I am impatient, so I placed my mixer bowl in a larger bowl filled with cold, but not icy water and stirred until the mixture reached a temperature of 100 ° – 110° F]

ADD THE YEAST CAKE, softened in a small amount of water to which one teaspoon of sugar may be added. [Note: Google told me that 1 yeast cake = 1 packet of dried active yeast. I added ¼ cup of warm water (100 ° – 110° F) to the yeast and stirred to mix. Then added 1 t of sugar to proof the yeast. Wait 10 minutes and if the mixture has tripled in size then the yeast is healthy & ready to use. ]

ADD THE FLOUR. Whole-wheat flour should not be sifted before measuring.

I then set my Kitchen Aid mixer with the bread-hook attachment on speed 2, and let it work it’s magic until the dough clung to the hook and cleaned the sides of the bowl, about two minutes. Then knead on speed 2 for an additional two minutes.

 

If you are doing the kneading by hand Ruth Berolzheimer explains, “Press the dough away with the palms of your hand. Stretch the dough from the edge, folding back edge over to the center. Press the dough away with the palms of your hands, exerting sufficient force to cause the part folded over to adhere to the mass under it, and repeat folding. Turn dough one-quarter around and repeat kneading. Continue turning, folding and kneading until dough is smooth and elastic and will not stick to an unfloured board.”

 

FIRST RISING – Grease large bowl with vegetable oil. I pour a little oil in my hands and then spread the oil over the insides of the bowl with my hands like fingerpainting. I find this more efficient and rather fun! Place dough in bowl and turn the dough in the bowl to cover all sides of the dough with oil. Cover with damp towel and place in a warm place (80 ° – 85°) for an hour, or until the dough is triple its size. There is no warm place in my condo at this time of year, so I pre-heated the oven for 10 minutes and then let it cool down to a comfortable temperature. An oven thermometer would be very helpful here.

SECOND RISING –  This step is optional but as Ruth explains, “This second rising is…worth while because it improves both the texture and flavor of the bread.” I took my bowl from the oven quickly to avoid too much heat escaping, folded the top of the dough over the sides and tucked them under the loaf per the Woman’s Cookbook’s instructions. Next time I will just punch down the loaf. I felt folding it over made the top of the loaf rough. It could also be that I did it wrong. Let the dough rise for another hour.

SHAPING THE LOAVES – Separate the dough into two halves. Woman’s Cookbook says to fold the sides underneath the loaf and squeeze to elongate the dough to the size of your pan. I decided to make one large loaf and two baby loaves, so I divided one half into half again. Place shaped dough into well-greased pans. Let rise until doubled in volume.

Cook loaves at 400° for 15 minutes and then decrease the temperature to 350° for the remaining 45 minutes. My mini loaves were done after an additional 15 minutes at 350°. The loaves are done when the sides pull away from the pan, the crust is a rich, golden brown, and the loaves sound hollow when you firmly tap the top. You can also insert a toothpick into the center; the loaves are done when it comes out clean. Immediately remove the loaves from the pans to cool on a rack.

slices of whole wheat bread

The bread was the perfect consistency, not too dense and not too airy, and the crust was crisp while the inside was moist and chewy. The bread was slightly sweet, so if you prefer a less sweet loaf, reduce the sugar by a tablespoon or two. Carboholic’s heaven!

19 Comments

  • Anonymous
    February 22, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Thanks for the great article..

    Reply
  • Anonymous
    March 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Discount lacoste handbags these bare canvas having to do with cosmetic correspon…

    Best wishes!Your blog is very good!…

    Reply
  • AmericanCooking22
    March 1, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you for reading!

    Reply
  • Anonymous
    March 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Do you have any video of that?

    Reply
  • AmericanCooking22
    March 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I don’t but as soon as I find a helper, I would love to film one! Thanks for the great suggestion!

    Reply
  • Anonymous
    March 7, 2013 at 3:49 am

    Incredible story there. What happened after? Take care!

    Reply
  • […] Add the proofed yeast to the cooled water mixture and stir.  Last add the flour slowly until the dough climbs up the hook. Set the mixture to speed 2 and wait until the dough clings to the hook and cleans the bowl. Then knead the dough on speed 2 for an additional two minutes. For detailed instructions for mixing and kneading by hand see my previous post for Whole Wheat Bread. […]

    Reply
  • Anonymous
    March 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Informative article, just what I was looking for.

    Reply
  • […] that whole-wheat bread from the American Woman’s Cookbook? After day 2 it got a little on the dry side as […]

    Reply
    • Heather Bryan
      December 29, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      How could it have possibly lasted two days? I used to make WW bread from this cookbook many moons ago when I was a kid so I am so grateful you have posted the recipe here. That cookbook was my mother’s and life got in the way and swept it out of my hands forever. I remember punching down the dough for the second rise. I’m hoping to make this recipe soon, and I will let you know if it is as I remember. I used to make it every Saturday.

      Reply
      • Lindsey
        January 2, 2018 at 12:17 pm

        Hahah! Happy Baking Heather! What a lovely memory. I love that cookbook and it will come back to you as soon as you start because the art of bread making is in the feel of the dough and the muscle memory.

        Reply
        • Heather Bryan
          December 24, 2019 at 9:44 pm

          Finally getting the time to make this bread. Question for you: you crossed off the 2- 3 cups white flour. I don’t remember adding that as a kid. Was that in the original recipe? How did you make it – just with 5 cups of whole wheat? Or did you use some extra whole wheat to make a medium stiff dough?

          Reply
          • Heather Bryan
            December 25, 2019 at 5:15 pm

            Actually, that muscle memory is starting to kick in. I remember now just having a small pile of white flour to the side of my work surface. I used white flour to dust the table top where I was going to knead the bread, and if the dough was too sticky while it was being kneaded, a little sprinkle from the pile could be added as often as needed.

          • Lindsey
            January 27, 2020 at 1:05 pm

            Hi Heather, I don’t think I intended to do that! This was one of my first recipes that I posted and I think the recipe plug-in is outdated. I am so sorry for that! I hope you ignored my odd crossing out. I was going to make a roll this evening for dinner. I’ll make this one and update you and the recipe. Again, I’m so sorry!

  • […] am not going to get all crazy with my instructions for how to make bread because my post on Whole Wheat Bread is extremely detailed, and it is an excellent reference tool for bread […]

    Reply
  • Sophia
    August 7, 2013 at 12:40 am

    This looks fantastic, mmm I love the smell of bread baking.

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      August 7, 2013 at 11:08 am

      LOL! You went and looked at my first post. Serves me right! It was really, really good! Best bread I’ve made to date.

      Reply
  • […] baking a cake to celebrate, but in the end, bread seemed more appropriate. Sound odd? Well, you see Whole-Wheat Bread from the American Woman’s Cookbook (1939 Edition) was my very first […]

    Reply
  • Heather Bryan
    December 25, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Actually, that muscle memory is starting to kick in. I remember now just having a small pile of white flour to the side of my work surface. I used white flour to dust the table top where I was going to knead the bread, and if the dough was too sticky while it was being kneaded, a little sprinkle from the pile could be added as often as needed.

    Reply

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