Bread Baking Botch

Ruth L. Snyder, a friend from my professional editors’ group, The Christian PEN, shares her botched bread baking experience, along with some tips and a recipe. I’m ready to start baking!~~~

whole-wheat breadA few weeks after my husband and I were married, I decided to surprise him with homemade bread, fresh from the oven. I mean, what could be better than welcoming my husband home with the tantalizing aroma of fresh bread? Especially when bread is one of his favorite foods? I had successfully made bread many times before with white flour. I figured it couldn’t be much different to make it with whole-wheat flour. (His mother made almost all of her baked goods with whole-wheat flour and he seemed to like that better.) How hard could it be?

I smiled to myself as I mixed the dough. It seemed to be rising. The texture was a bit different, but I expected that. I set the dough to rise, humming as I washed the dirty dishes. Soon it was time to shape the loaves. I set the bread pans on the counter to let the dough rise again. The bread rose a bit, but not as much as I expected. Maybe I hadn’t put enough dough in? Oh well, we’d just have smaller loaves.

While the bread was baking, I prepared supper. The timer rang, so I grabbed some potholders and opened the door. Instead of fluffy, risen loaves, I saw a strange u-shape in each pan. The sides of the loaves were high, but the middle was low. When I jabbed a toothpick into a loaf, it came out clean. Obviously the bread was baked, but it looked terrible.

Just as I was deciding what I would do with my botched loaves of whole-wheat bread, my husband walked in the door. I greeted him and tried to distract him from seeing the loaves. However, the aroma attracted him to the counter. I held my breath.

“Thanks for making me bread! It smells wonderful.”

I sighed. “Yeah, but it doesn’t look that wonderful.”

My husband chuckled. “It’s not that bad. You should have seen my Mom’s bread the first time SHE used whole-wheat. It was flat as a pancake and hard as a rock.”

I laughed, despite myself. We both enjoyed our supper, and I’ll always remember my bread-baking botch.

Since then, I’ve learned several tricks to baking with whole-wheat flour:

1. Whole-wheat flour doesn’t have as much gluten as white flour, so the dough needs to be mixed longer to activate the gluten that’s there.
2. Whole-wheat flour is heavier than white flour, so you don’t need to use as much, especially in raised goods. You should use one-half to three-quarters the amount of flour the recipe calls for to get results similar to those you get with white flour.
3. Whole-wheat flour may require you to use more yeast than white flour, for the reasons already mentioned.
4. Freshly ground whole-wheat flour doesn’t like to rise. It’s better if you grind your flour and let it sit for a few hours before you make your bread. (I don’t know the science behind this. Does anyone care to enlighten me?)

Here’s my favorite bread recipe: Feather-Light Bread Buns (from Campus Cooks at Prairie, recipe submitted by Mrs. Esther Johnson)

2 Tbsp yeast 6 Tbsp shortening
1 cup lukewarm water 1 cup water
2 tsp sugar or honey 2 cups cold water
¾ cup sugar (optional) 2 eggs
1 tsp salt 8 to 10 cups flour (6-8 cups whole-wheat!)

Sprinkle yeast into sweetened lukewarm water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Boil the sugar, salt, shortening, and 1 cup water for 5 minutes. Add the 2 cups of cold water and well-beaten eggs. Add well-stirred yeast preparation. Gradually stir in the flour, kneading well. Let rise until a little more than double in bulk. Shape into buns or bread. Put in lightly greased pans. Let rise, then bake in 375° oven for 15-20 minutes for buns or 40-50 minutes for bread.


ruth cover“Cecile’s Christmas Miracle” by Ruth L. Snyder will be released in e-book format on December 1, 2013, as part of the anthology The Twelve Days of Christmas. Cecile, a young missionary nurse, is spending her first Christmas in the Kalahari Desert, far away from family, friends, and everything familiar.

For more information:

SONY DSCRuth L. Snyder was privileged to spend the first ten years of her life in southern Africa where her parents served as missionaries. She now lives in northeastern Alberta with her husband and five young children. Ruth has had several articles and short stories published. She is a member of The Word Guild, the Christian PEN, and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Ruth currently serves as president of ICWF.

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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2 Responses to Bread Baking Botch

  1. Bread making, any kind, is a learned art! Wonderful when you finally master it. Contratulations on going forward after the first not quite so successful attempt!


  2. Bobbi says:

    Love the story, Ruth.I used to bake bread so often I could do it in my sleep. Now I wouldn’t know where to begin. Baking bread is not like riding a bike! I had a similar experience when I first tried the healthy route. Doing half and half whole-wheat and white was my final solution – still heavier, but not a ‘U’ shape. Your husband was very supportive in appreciating your intention over your result. Good for him!



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