- 2½–3 cups very warm (110–115°) water
- ⅔ cup honey
- 2 packages of any regular rising yeast
- 6 cups bread flour—3 cups whole wheat, 3 cups unbleached white
- 1½ teaspoons salt
Mixing Warm the bowl of your mixer with very hot water for a few minutes while you assemble your supplies.
Place 2½ cups of very warm water in a glass bowl, and whisk in the honey until blended. Dump the yeast into this mixture, and let sit for 10–15 minutes to proof. Some bakers avoid this step altogether, adding the yeast right into the flour. But I have had occasional trouble with yeast not rising so I don’t mind this extra step, where I get to visually monitor the bubbly growth of the yeast in the water. That way, I can start over with the yeast mixture if necessary, and not waste all the flour if there is not a good rise.
Place the flours and the salt in the mixing bowl and use the dough hook on low to mix the dry ingredients. Add the yeast mixture and use a medium speed to blend. The dough will look shaggy and some flour will stick to the sides of the bowl. It should look more wet than dry, so if it seems a bit dry to you, add the rest of the water here. This is OK as it will be incorporated as the mixing goes on. I find that the perfect setting for kneading on my mixer is just a bit up from medium, but not quite full-out high. You will get the feel for it too! After about 4 minutes you will begin to hear a different quality in the dough as it goes around in the bowl. It just seems to be together better. Knead for 1 more minute or so.
At this point you can either just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel or you can turn the dough out onto a floured counter for a moment, oil the bowl with some olive oil, then return the dough to the bowl. Turn the dough over once so an oiled side is up, then cover it. Both methods work. Let it rise for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size. It can even sit for longer, developing better taste.
Baking Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare 2 bread pans by lightly coating them with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently. Try to knead all the air bubbles out of the dough. Cut the dough in half with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Shape each piece into a long oblong and place in the prepared pans. Let rise for 30 minutes, or until the dough has risen right up to the very top edge of the pan. The bread will rise a tiny bit more as it bakes.
Bake for 35 minutes, until the top of your loaf is nicely brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then run a knife around the edges of the loaf to loosen it. Tip out the loaves and let them cool on a rack or a cutting board. Do not cut this bread right away—let it sit until almost cool, allowing the moisture in the bread to distribute itself properly. This will assure a better texture and better cutting of the loaf.