After numerous failed loaves (which we ate, for the most part, anyway, as the bread is delicious), I finally managed to make a wonderful loaf today. I used a small loaf pan, which was,I think, most of my problems before. I also opted to use my KitchenAid to mix and knead the dough in, rather than by hand, which made the bread turn out lighter and allowed it to rise more than the loaves I kneaded by hand. I have no doubt that now that I'm slowly getting this recipe mastered, I will be making it for my family at least once a week, if not more. Even the ones in my family that hate wheat bread are loving this half-and-half honey wheat! Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Tammy--as well as help when it wasn't turning out right.
Notes from Tammy: Whole grain yeast breads can be so tricky! (Have you read the post about my whole wheat bread failures after moving to WA?) For slow rising, one of the main things I can think of is the temperature of the room/location where you're letting the loaf rise. Have you tried warming the oven for a minute or two, turning it off, and then putting the loaf in there to rise? You could also try just one rise -- make the dough (it is kneaded enough when it is "smooth" and "elastic" and springy), put it in the pan, let it rise, and bake right then. It's worth a try if you've tried everything else! One more thing... what kind of whole wheat flour are you using? If your whole wheat flour isn't very fresh, or happens to not have much gluten in it, that could drastically affect your results.
Thanks for the advice-- I'll have to try that when I next make a loaf, probably later this week. I've tried putting it on the top of my oven when it is warm (not hot), but perhaps putting it in the slightly warm oven will work better. The flour is new (well,by that I mean I just bought it this past week, though you never know how "fresh" it is off the shelves at the store) and it's, I believe, Prarie Gold brand? I'd have to look at my package again; it was the only wheat flour that my local store even sold, but if it is the wrong kind for this recipe I will simple have to search out a bigger selection at another store! It may be a silly question, but would elevation have any affect on it? I live in the mountains in Utah, nearly 6,000 or so feet. Course, the wheather probably hasn't helped any--extremely hot and humid, with dry spells inbetween.... Oh, the troubles we go through for good tasting fresh bread! LOL. Once I try your suggestions, I'll let you know how everything turned out!
From Tammy: Yes, altitude can make a difference but I'm not experienced with high-altitude baking so I don't have any tips on tweaking this recipe for that... I know our weather here makes a difference, too, but I haven't figured out exactly what. I just know sometimes I have success and some times (especially in November and December) I don't! And all-purpose or bread flour is easier to work with than whole wheat flour... good flour does make a difference, and whole wheat is the trickiest for getting that perfect loaf! :)