Honey Wheat Bread with Poppy Seeds and Lemon

Honey Lemon Poppy Seed Wheat Bread

Honey Wheat Bread with Lemon and Poppy Seeds

I broke the mold! In fact, it’s still the same Country-Style Hearth Loaf, but with a twist. I felt confident in my resolve to knead more vigorously and bake less. Confident enough to add…STUFF. STUFF can profoundly alter how much a dough will rise, so I’d planned to avoid that challenge at first. (As in any science experiment – we’ve got to limit those variables!) In fact, I usually buy plain loaves at the bakery because they go with everything, but I do love a loaf with a theme.

the ingredients

the ingredients

That weekend, I just happened to have on hand an old bag of poppy seeds and a jar of honey gone crystal. Considering last year’s very successful resolution to avoid wasting food, I was delighted to find a recipe in Bread Alone for Honey Wheat Bread with Poppy Seeds and Lemon. The recipe is essentially a Country-Style Hearth Loaf, except that it calls for half the flour to be whole wheat. Classic Liz: I just substituted my trusty ole 20% bran flour. 20% bran really is plenty for me, and besides, the 25-lb bag I bought from Wild Hive has been taking up far too much space in my fridge. (Oh, to have a pantry…and a root cellar!)

So I kneaded like a mad woman, once splitting the wad of dough into two pieces. That helped me really work the dough without tiring. I also made use of an autolyse, a technique I learned from Farmgirl Susan. I kneaded the dough for a few minutes, let it rest on the counter for 20 minutes, and then finished the kneading. I should be adding the salt to the dough after the autolyse, but I didn’t think to try an autolyse until I’d already mixed the dough. Salt tightens the gluten strands; kneading before adding salt helps develop gluten faster. I am already kneading for longer than recommended – I hope that an autolyse and practice will help quicken the process.

I’m beginning to think I am actually adding too little flour. Though I consistently add at least the maximum measure of flour, my doughs still feel tacky. Every flour absorbs a different volume of water; perhaps mine is thirstier than most. Searching for answers I stumbled upon Baking 911. Though aesthetically upsetting, this site compiles a motherload of bread baking tips, and I found one of my symptoms: “A free-form loaf spread too much as it was rising.”  The answer? “The dough was too soft. Free-form loaves must be quite firm when shaped. Next time, add more flour, use a ring to contain the dough, or let it rise in a basket.” Well, I am already using a basket for proofing, but my loaves seem to spread out the instant they’re on the peel. It’s time to try more flour!

great crumb

great crumb

Nonetheless, this was good bread! I baked the bread only 30 minutes instead of the suggested 40 minutes and achieved a soft, chewy crust. No more croutons! Though I still haven’t topped that sourdough back in April, I think this loaf is one of the best yet!

P.S. For my birthday, two co-workers bought me Kneedlessly Simple – a cookbook of knead-free breads. I’m looking forward to trying something completely new!

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2 responses to “Honey Wheat Bread with Poppy Seeds and Lemon

  1. Looks delish. And great photography too. 🙂

  2. Thanks! I’m trying to take better photos…and Joe’s fancy new camera is helping!

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