Whole Wheat Bread

It snowed again today.  No one was happy about it.  I needed something warm and comforting and bread seemed like the perfect way to cozy up the house.

At altitude, bread is always tricky.  I have a few alterations, but no guarantees they will work every time.  One thing I usually do is a quick-rise.  I turn the kneaded bread out into a prepared pan.  In this case my big cast iron skillet.

I cover it with a damp towel and wax paper and let it double.  I don’t punch it down and do second rise.  This creates a loaf that is denser and a bit yeastier – less complex in flavors than a double-rise loaf, but eliminates the risk of the dough rising too much, and then falling and creating a brick instead of a loaf of bread. Then I brush the loaf with cold water, place a tray of ice cubes in a shallow baking pan on the bottom rack and bake as usual.  At the 20 minute mark I do an egg wash and let bake until it reaches 200 degrees F in the center (thanks JeffreyW for that tidbit).

This gives it a nice crisp, chewy crust.  Some butter and honey and you’re all set to go.  What’s this?  I went to the cupboard and the honey pot was empty.  Oh bother.