People in my parent’s generation learned to “make do.” If they didn’t have enough sugar, they used molasses to sweeten cookies and cakes. If they ran out of shortening, they used bacon grease or chicken fat to make pie crusts and biscuits. When kids tore holes in their clothes or broke their toys, mothers and fathers patched and fixed things until they were “almost good as new.”
Jerri subscribes to the “make do” school of thought even more than I do. One Sunday afternoon at the cabin when I discovered that there was not enough white flour to finish the bread I had started, she looked up from the book she was reading and said, “There’s some whole wheat flour in the cabinet. Make do.”
And I did. Since I had intended to make white bread, I substituted just enough whole wheat flour to make the dough. The result was more than satisfactory, and our friends enjoy it when they visit.
The whole wheat adds a little more fiber and gives the bread the nutty flavor we associate with whole grain flours. This bread keeps well and is very good toasted.
1 1/4 cups water
1 package or 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup milk
2 T butter
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat flour
4 to 5 cups all purpose white flour
Put 1/4 cup warm water (90º to 115º) in a cup with 1/4 tsp. sugar and stir in the yeast. While the yeast is proofing, warm the milk and butter until the milk steams and the butter is melted. Pour the hot milk into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar and salt.
Allow the milk and butter to cool a few minutes, then add a cup of cold water and stir in a cup of white flour, a cup of whole wheat flour and another cup of white flour. Stir thoroughly after each cup of flour is added.
Check the temperature of the batter by dropping a little on the inside of your wrist. If it feels cool or only slightly warm, add the yeast and stir it in well. Depending on your preference, add a half or a full cup of whole wheat flour and enough white flour to make a dough that begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Tip it out on to a well floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and satiny. Return it to a greased bowl, turn it to cover the dough lightly with grease, and cover the bowl with a damp towel.
Let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk. Tip it onto a lightly floured surface and and knead it for five or six turns, then divide it in half, form two loaves and place them in greased pans. Cover them with a damp towel and set them in a warm draft-free spot to rise.
While the loaves are rising preheat the oven to 400º.
When the dough has risen slightly above the tops of the pans, put them on the center rack in the hot oven. After ten minutes, reduce the heat to 350º and bake approximately 25 minutes longer.
When the 25 minutes are up, tip the loaves out of the pans and tap them on the bottom. If the loaves sound hollow, the bread is done. If not, let them bake directly on the oven rack another five minutes, then remove them from the oven and cool them on a wire rack.
NOTES: You can make one loaf and a pan of wonderful dinner rolls with this recipe as well. Just roll out half of the dough to about a half inch thick, cut it into 12 equal pieces and form the rolls. Place the rolls in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan and put the pan in with the loaf of bread. The rolls should be lightly browned and done in 15 or 20 minutes.