“You know how bad you are at bread. . .”

Those were Andy’s words when I told him I was making bagels.

It’s true, I have a history of failed attempts at bread.  I like to think this is just because I really want to make bread with 100% whole wheat flour.  Nevermind the fact that I haven’t yet learned to make good bread with white flour.

But more to the point, there was left over cream cheese in the fridge from making celebratory spring break cinnamon rolls, so what choice did I have but to make bagels?  I went through recipes on tastespotting and chose a winner.

I should probably add that I’ve saved this particular recipe in my “Exciting Things to Make” file several times before but, because it takes two days, I’ve never followed through. But this time I was really going to.  Because it was  spring break, and I planned ahead, and I’d been thinking about those bagels all week.  That cream cheese was just sitting there in the refrigerator, taunting me–I had to do it. . .

But you’ve probably guessed by now, given that the picture up above is not a picture of bagels, that I didn’t.  That two-day thing really gets to me I guess.  I just don’t have that kind of patience.  I haven’t given up though.  Some other day.  It’ll happen.

I did, however, make bread.  100% whole wheat bread.  I started with this recipe because the pictures looked like what bread should look like and because it only requires one day.

Of course I can’t ever leave anything alone so I changed this recipe a little.  Even knowing that I am, in fact, bad at bread, and probably shouldn’t be trusted changing bread recipes around.

First, I replaced the dry milk and water with skim milk because I just didn’t have any dry milk in the house at 10 pm when I finally decided I was making bread.  The internet told me this was okay.

Second, I replaced the honey with agave nectar because I like the flavor just as well and it has a lower glycemic index than honey.  If you don’t know much about glycemic index, the basic idea behind it is that foods with a lower glycemic index release sugar into your system more gradually so you don’t have a blood sugar spike and crash.  I’ve noticed that when I eat lower GI foods I have more energy and don’t get as many headaches.

Third, I replaced the vegetable oil with melted butter because I don’t like the texture of things made with oil.  And if you don’t believe me, I’m  not the only one who thinks it makes a difference.  Andy’s been calling me crazy for refusing to bake with oil, but Jen agrees with me.  Besides, lots of bread recipes call for butter instead so it should have been fine, right?

Well, it wasn’t terrible.  In fact, it’s my best attempt at bread so far.  But the dough was really difficult to work with.  I actually had to knead it in batches because it was so stiff and that was after I added an extra tablespoon of milk.  I was so afraid it wouldn’t rise, but it did, just like it was supposed to.  However, the final product was still very dense and grainy.  It’s a little like I made a whole wheat pound cake and forgot the sugar.  See how it doesn’t look at all like sandwich bread?  There are no air pockets.

In defense of this recipe, I will say, I had a piece of this bread with peanut butter for breakfast this morning at 6:30 and I wasn’t hungry again until 2:00.  Now that’s impressive.

At any rate, I don’t think I’ve found my 100% whole wheat bread recipe yet but I am getting closer.  I’m trying this one next.  After that I think I might have to break down and try a few recipes that include part white flour or that involve a two-day process.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s the recipe as I made it this time:


  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 1/3 + 1 tbsp warm skim milk

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Combine all other ingredients in a separate container.  Make sure it smells like yeast.  Pour the wet into the dry and stir until it forms a dough.   Dump the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.  I found myself pouring on tiny amounts of milk instead of adding flour at this point.  Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place (I used the oven since it was still warm from making sweet potato fries) for about an hour until it doubles in size.  Punch down the dough , form it into a loaf and place it in a loaf pan, covered, back in its warm place.  Let it rise for another hour or so.  Then bake at 350 for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Let cool on a wire rack.

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3 Responses to “You know how bad you are at bread. . .”

  1. Bethea says:

    Even though the bread didn’t turn out how you wanted- those are gorgeous pictures. Bread can be very finicky if you overknead or underknead it. I haven’t done many standard loaves- but I intend to. I make more yeast roll type things or sweet breads (except that weird garlic parm bread I made a few weeks ago in a bread crock).

    If I find an exceptional bread recipe I’ll have to let you know.

  2. katherine says:

    this is the easiest, easiest bread i’ve made. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html?ref=dining

    you prepare it at night, and bake it in the morning.
    no kneading! the yeast does all the work overnight 🙂

  3. Making bread takes practice. I love doing it and still have my moments of complete utter failure. What’s funny is the bread you made looks really tasty.

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