Sunday, 21 December 2008

Whole Wheat Holiday Loaves

Holiday breads are traditionally made using white flour, sugar and dairy products. These holiday loaves are made with 100% whole wheat and contain no dairy products. The loaves are dark and chewy with an exceptional flavor.

I love making traditional festive breads, but there is a point when you can get too much of a good thing. We get so much sugar and white flour during the holidays, I thought this bread would be a nice change of pace. Of course my teenage sons probably won't eat it so I'll give a loaf to my mom. She's always willing to test my bread creations. In fact, every time she comes over she asks if I have any bread in the freezer. Of course I do!

By the way, this bread keeps very well. It will retain its goodness as long as a week under good storage conditions.

Note: You can shape the dough into two hearth loaves for a pretty presentation or bake it in loaf pans. I'm always looking for a good whole wheat toast for breakfast so I plan to bake them in loaf pans so they can easily be sliced and toasted.

Whole Wheat Holiday Loaves
Makes: 2 loaves
The recipe for these festive loaves is from
The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking by Laurel Robertson.

  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (120 g)
  • 1 cup raisins (145 g)
  • 1 cup boiling water (235 ml)
  • 1/4 cup honey (60 ml)
  • 1 cup orange juice (235 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (30 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1/4 oz or 7g)
  • 1/2 cup warm water (120 ml)
  • 5 1/2 cups finely ground whole wheat flour (830 g)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt (14 g)
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel (peel of 2 or 3 oranges)


Prepare the walnuts by roasting slightly in the oven. Rinse the raisins and pour the boiling water over them in a pan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Drain immediately, setting aside the raisins and bringing the measure of the water back to 1 cup.

Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water.  Separately mix honey, orange juice, oil, and raisin water. Mix the flour, salt, and orange peel in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour  and pour in the orange juice mixture.

Combine these ingredients until they are almost mixed and then add the yeast.

Mix to form a dough, and knead five to ten minutes only. Cover and set aside to rise in a warm place. When the dough has risen until your 1/2-inch fingertip remains without filling in.

Knead about 10 minutes more, while you gradually add in the raisins and walnuts.

Let the dough rise again.

Divide in two. Shape the pieces into rounds and let them rest, covered, until relaxed.

Make two pretty hearth loaves, or shape into loaves and place in two 8" x 4" pan loaves. Let them rise again in a warm place.

Things don't always turn out the way they should:

The loaves were rising very nicely until my son turned the oven on preheat to make some pizza rolls. He didn't know there was anything in the oven and I was out running an errand. He was asleep when I left so I didn't mention it to him. He noticed once he opened the oven door, and rescued them as best he could, but they had already started baking a little bit so they didn't completely rise. I decided to share this story because things don't always go as they should. Despite all this, the loaves still taste great!

Then bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 55 minutes, or until done. Small hearth loaves will take less baking time.  Cool on wire baking rack.

This bread tastes good toasted with butter.

Happy Baking!

Additional festive bread recipes and resources:

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