The watering stations, in the backyard, are beginning to see more activity. Honey bees are finding their way back, with flowering plum and apricot trees to provide pollen as well. Around the stations are a plenitude of flowering, what some call weeds, but are pretty flowers to me. The bees do not complain, so why should I?
I am hoping that some of these bees are relatives of the ones saved in June 2020. Cindy and Mack Smith helped rescue, and introduce, them into their existing hives. Since then, the Smiths have given us a jar of their precious, and most delicious honey each year; and we are so very grateful for the generosity.
In our home, the honey is never wasted as it sweetens are tea, is used for cooking, and most definitely for baking, especially bread products. When baking up bread, even rolls, that require yeast, some sort of food is needed to feed the yeast, a sweet food. Most recipes call for sugar, but, in comparison, honey makes it more flavorful, and sugar is, well, sort of bland. Now many will agree, and many will disagree, and that is perfectly alright as taste is in the mouth of the person eating. However, I know many who will drizzle honey over their sugar infused bread, and they are making my point, honey makes it better!
As I have stated many times, I like it easy; easy recipes, easy preparation, and easy techniques. Recently I came across a recipe for 5-Ingredient Bread with the yeast being fed by honey…perfect for me! While it makes an airy white bread, I played with the recipe and introduced potato flour to the all-purpose flour. The first batch was terrible. While the outside was crusty and golden brown, the interior was a complete mushy mesh. What went wrong?
Potato flour is not the same as boiled, mashed potatoes apparently, even though the flour is made from, what else, potatoes. Potato flour is made from potatoes that have been cooked, dried to remove all water, then ground; however, it retains the starch. Adding mashed, wet potatoes means it is retaining the starch which makes the bread denser, but liquid has to be limited. Potato flour sucks up water like a sponge, so additional water needs to be constantly added to the mixture for a dough to eventually form. Too much water though, and the bread will bake on the outside, but leave a wet mess inside. It seems to be a matter of trial and error.
How to fix this? For every 3 complete cups of all-purpose flour, only add ¼ cup of potato flour.
Back to the honey. While waiting for the yeast to grow inside the mixture of warm water and honey, expect to be amazed. In 15-20 minutes, the entire mixture will simply grow and grow! I used a 4-cup bowl, and good thing a clean towel was over it, as the mixture had doubled and would have been dripping over the sides. Oh, and the smell of the yeast and honey is intoxicating!
Now to the recipe; try it as written, but I definitely suggest adding a little potato flour to the mixture. The bread will be slightly denser, so you will think you are eating cake, instead of bread. As is, or with butter smeared over, is lovely. Toasted, with butter and jam, jelly or marmalade, now we are talking heavenly.
2 cups warm water (105F-110F)
2/3 cup honey
1 and ¾ Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 and ½ tsp. salt
5 cups all-purpose flour (or 4 and ½ cups all-purpose plus ¼ cup potato flour)
Preparation:In a large mixing bowl, whisk together warm water and honey until honey is dissolved. Add yeast, and cover with a towel. In about 10-20 minutes, mixture will be frothy and double in size.
Stir in salt, and add flour one cup at a time. Flour hands, remove dough to board, or clean counter, and knead for 5 minutes. Place kneaded dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with towel.
After an hour, dough should have risen to almost top of bowl. Punch the dough down once, remove to board or clean count; knead again for 5 minutes. Divide into two lightly-greased loaf pans, cover with towel; allow dough to rise for 30 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven at 325F for 30-35 minutes. Many bread recipes use an oven at 350F, but 325F works better when using honey.
Makes two loaves.
To freeze a loaf, wrap completely in plastic wrap, place inside a freezer type plastic bag, and label with date as it will only keep for 3 months. That is if it can last that long before both loaves are eaten.
Enjoy baking and eating this bread, and remember to always be kind to the bees.