Adapted from Beard on Bread by James Beard (1973), one of my favorite cookbooks. I hadn’t made this satisfying bread recently and was surprised by the amounts of honey, molasses, and salt that the recipe recommended. I love my sugar and salt even more than the next person, but the bread is still surpassingly tasty after cutting them back.
It is a pleasure to read James Beard’s comments on the bread recipes in his book, not least because of the serving suggestions he provides such as, “It should be eaten fresh, with plenty of good sweet butter.” James Beard remarks of Cracked-Wheat Bread that “I particularly like it toasted and well buttered.” Who could disagree?
I make this bread in a standing mixer with a dough hook for kneading. You could certainly mix and knead it by hand. I have also made it in a bread machine and the ingredient amounts are given below as a postscript.
3/4 cup fine cracked wheat (Bob’s Red Mill’s Bulgur is cracked wheat)
2 1/4 cups boiling water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
1/3 cup warm water (100°F to 115°F, approximately)
1/4 cup softened butter
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup milk
3 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
Cook the cracked wheat in the boiling water about 15 or 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until all the water is absorbed.
Dissolve the yeast in the 1/3 cup of lukewarm water in the mixer bowl and let proof. (This step can be omitted if you are using instant yeast, but remember to add the 1/3 cup of water to the dough mixture.)
Stir the butter, salt, molasses, honey, and milk (and 1/3 cup of water if you are using instant yeast) into the cooked cracked wheat. Cool to lukewarm, then add to the yeast mixture in the mixer bowl.
Put the flours (and instant yeast if you are using it) into another bowl and whisk them together.
Add the flours (and instant yeast if you are using it) to the mixer bowl. Let the dough hook mix everything together into a fairly stiff dough. Knead for 10 minutes on low. The dough will retain a slightly tacky but not sticky texture.
Place the dough into a buttered bowl. Cover, place in a warm, draft-free spot, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and shape into two loaves. Put in well-buttered 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans, cover, and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 375°F oven about 35 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on top and bottom. Cool on racks.
Postscript: Ingredient amounts for bread machine
1/2 cup cracked wheat
1 1/3 cups boiling water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon molasses
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour