Honey Whole Wheat Bread ( for bears and otherwise)
5 cups whole wheat flour
2-2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup milk (scalded)
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup honey
1/2 -3/4 cup hot water (105-115 degrees F)
2 TBSP yeast
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP salt
Mix yeast and hot water with about 1 tsp of the sugar and proof.(proofing is the MOST important step in making bread. It activates the yeast and makes sure that your bread will raise. After mixing , you give them time to work- wait about 5 minutes and watch for the yeast to grow. It will form a foam on top and grow in volume.)
Stir flours, salt, and remaining sugar together in large bowl.
Melt margarine into scalded milk (scald in microwave- 90 seconds on HIGH), then stir in honey until everything is melted and melded.
Make a well in flour mixture and add milky mixture- stir lightly into flour so that the hot mixture is lumpy in flour and then add yeast mixture. At this point you might need to add a little more water. I rinse the measuring cups out with hot water and pour the rinse water into the dough. You want the dough to be soft and flexible- not hard and doughy. Stir well- dough should be sticky- and dump contents of bowl onto floured surface. Add flour to your hands, and knead dough adding flour as needed. Knead dough for about 12 minutes- you can feel when the gluten starts to form- it will feel smooth and be cohesive. (Kneading is done with the palms of the hands – you push the dough towards the center of your ball, fold dough over and push, making a quarter turn with each push. You are forming a ball with the kneading movements.)
When your dough is smooth and feel satiny, place in a greased bowl – turn dough over so that the top of ball is buttered and cover and allow the dough to raise in a warm spot away from drafts. Allow to raise for about an hour- dough will be ready when it leaves an indent when you poke it with your forefinger.
I measure the dough out for bears: 8 oz. for the tummy…4 oz. for the head….about 1 oz. for each appendage, and about 2 oz to use for ears and snout. (see following pictures.) I shape each piece into a tight ball by gently stretching the dough into a ball and pinching the back tightly. Then I do it again, pulling it as tightly as I can without breaking the cloak or skin of the dough. Then place each piece next to the other in the shape of a teddy bear and grab a bamboo skewer and using the sharp pointy end press the balls together at the seams. Form small balls for ears, place behind head and seam it with the skewer, Then make a small oblong ball and put it in the lower center of face and seam it into place with skewer. Make small indentations with skewer for eyes and nose and push currants or raisins in with the dull end of the skewer. I always give my bears a belly button with the skewer. Just poke them in the tummy and twist/pull the skewer out. Then let them raise for at least 45 minutes- up to an hour and 15 minutes – Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes- until teddy bear brown.
Cool on wire racks. Tummies should give a slightly hollow sound when you thump it to see if they are done. Thump gently!
Creating a gluten cloak
Scientific term for shaping the dough into cohesive balls that will form the base of each bear. Without the gluten cloak the dough sags and raises into a formless mass- not a bear!
This is the last step to the cloak- pushing the entire ball through the index finger and thumb, you create the tension that holds the dough in place. Now just pinch the back together tightly and you have created a bear belly. Do the same for the head and arms and legs- add tiny balls for ears and snout and. use the skewer to attach them by pressing them together with the edge and sliding across the attachment spot.