Sprouted wheat flour is a specialty flour that is easier to digest, high in protein and quite mild in flavor. It has a more subtle flavor than regular whole wheat flour, and bakes up much lighter in texture. The flavors of milk and honey shine through in this easy-to-make bread.
I like to use local honey from Florida when I can find it, to give this bread a unique twist.
Orange Blossom is Florida’s sunshine-soaked honey and is famous for its light, fruity, floral and distinct citrus flavor. The sweet fragrance of orange blossoms fills the grove while bees are collecting the nectar. Orange Blossom honey can be found as far north as Ocala, particularly in counties with large citrus production.
Tupelo honey is a specialty from the Florida Panhandle. The Tupelo gum tree grows along the Apalachicola and Chipola river basins, blooming on average three weeks a year. This honey’s light golden color is laced with a sweet yet distinctive flavor. It is often a choice of diabetics because it is rather low on the glycemic index. It’s slow to granulate, if at all. It is the most expensive of all the honey flavors.
Wildflower honey is found all over Florida. Where there are flowers with nectar that bees crave, there is wildflower honey. The taste is less sweet and it can be more tangy. It’s a complex honey because it comes from a wide variety of flowers. The color can range from golden to dark amber.
There’s also Saw Palmetto, the oldest known honey in Florida and one that has a sweet, fruity caramel taste. And Gallberry honey, which is similar to the Tupelo, grows in wet conditions and can be found all over Florida. Other classic varietals are avocado, blackberry and blueberry honey.
The aroma of this bread as it bakes will make you want to cut a slice immediately when it comes out of the oven. Take the time to allow the bread to cool completely to room temperature, and then have your bread feast. Slather with butter or honey, slice and toast for your morning breakfast or make a mile-high sandwich.
Sprouted wheat flour is available at kingarthurflour.com or at your specialty grocery store.
Milk and Honey Sprouted Wheat Bread
1 cup whole or 2 percent milk
¼ cup honey (local, if you can find it)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups sprouted wheat flour, or more if needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 large egg
For the topping:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Microwave the milk for 1 minute in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Add the honey and butter and whisk just until the butter melts into the mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast and sea salt. Pour in the milk mixture and stir until all the ingredients are combined. The dough will be stiff. Let the dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes. This gives the flour a chance to hydrate.
Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment. On medium speed, add the egg and mix just until a cohesive dough forms and does not stick to the bowl, about 5 minutes. At first the mixture will be very wet, but it will start to come together after a few minutes and slap against the side of the bowl. Add a few sprinkles of flour if the dough seems too wet.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few turns into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turn to coat, cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours. This depends on your kitchen temperature and humidity.
When the dough is almost finished rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Set the loaf pan on a quarter sheet pan.
On a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a 9- by 12-inch rectangle. Roll the dough into a log, starting at the short side, then pinch the seam and place in the pan, seam side down. Cut six slashes on top of the bread with a scissor or razor.
Whisk together the egg and brown sugar. Gently coat the top of the bread with the mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes on the bottom rack until nicely browned. The center should read at least 190 degrees when done. If the bread is browning too quickly, tent with a loose piece of aluminum foil.
Let the bread cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper on the bottom and place on a rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature in a zip-top bag or plastic wrap. You can also freeze the bread at this point.
Makes 1 loaf.
Lorraine Fina Stevenski is a self-taught baker and award-winning recipe contest addict. This column features recipes that have been entered in contests across America and updated for readers who love to bake. Check out what she’s cooking and creating right now on her Facebook page, LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI. Contact her at email@example.com.