Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Honey wheat-germ whole-wheat bread


From left: Megan McQuivey gets help from her children - Soren, baby Lachlan, Janessa, Jansen, and Logan - and her husband, James, as she makes bread. "Making bread is kind of a lost art," McQuivey says, and she's determined that her kids will be skilled bread bakers. (see story bekow)


Makes 2 loaves

1 1/2 cups hot tap water

1 Tablespoon yeast

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

3 Tablespoons shortening or butter

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or more as needed

extra unbleached all-purpose flour (for kneading)

extra butter (for the tops)

1. Have on hand two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/3-inch loaf pans.

2. Put the hot water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Pour the honey on top. Set aside, without stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and frothy.

3. In a large bowl, combine the salt, whole-wheat flour, and wheat germ. Cut in the shortening or butter. Stir in the yeast mixture and combine well.

4. Begin adding all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make a workable dough. Butter a large bowl.

5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface sprinkled with all-purpose flour. Knead for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in the bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.

6. On the floured board, punch the dough down and form it into two loaves. Place them, seams down, in the loaf pans. Cover again and leave to rise for 45 minutes.

7. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Bake the loaves for 35 minutes, or until they are golden brown and make a deep, full sound when you knock on the bottom of the loaf.

8. Butter the tops of the loaves while they're still in the pans. Turn the loaves out onto cooling racks. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. The bread is best eaten the day it's baked, preferably still warm.

Megan McQuivey




Homemade bread | One Cook's Best Dish

The family that bakes together...


Jane Dornbusch,

Globe Correspondent


NEEDHAM - For Megan McQuivey, "staff of life" is more than just a turn of phrase. The whole-wheat bread she bakes for her family of eight - husband James and their six children - connects her to the past and future generations of her family, and to her Utah upbringing.

The tradition comes from her forebears, who were Mormon immigrants from the British Isles. For them, wheat wasn't just a hedge against hunger. As McQuivey puts it, "Wheat became a metaphor for living, and a means of transmitting a culture of hard work, sacrifice, and integrity." Growing up the oldest of 10, McQuivey was in charge of baking the weekly loaves, and she learned to coax the best from wheat - how to grind it to different consistencies for different types of recipes, how to distinguish one variety from another, and most of all, how to make almost anything from it. That means she's also good at cinnamon buns, flaky crescent rolls, Irish soda bread, and challah. Moreover, she's an enthusiastic cook who prepares dinner just about every night and expects the whole family around the table. "We are very firm about family dinners," she says.

But the simple, homespun whole-wheat bread is a mainstay in the busy household. She's made it so often that she thinks nothing of tossing off half a dozen loaves, and she's comfortable with any number of variations on the basic theme. "Bread is a wonderful thing for a cook to experiment with," she says, helping five of the kids (baby Lachlan, 4 months, is a bit young to lend a hand). "It has just a few components, and once you learn them, you can switch them around. Every change you make makes subtle differences." Her favorite, and the one she calls her signature version, contains honey and wheat germ.

McQuivey, 40, learned to bake the bread from her mother, who learned it in turn from her mother. "Making bread is kind of a lost art," McQuivey says, and she's determined that her kids - Jansen, 15, Janessa, 13, Logan, 9, J.B., 7, Soren, 4, and little Lachlan - will be skilled bread bakers.

Gathered round the table in their small dining room, they start by measuring the yeast into a bowl of hot tap water; J.B. takes charge of this task with help from his father. McQuivey reminds the children: Don't mess with the yeast - that is, don't stir it in to the water or play around with it, or it won't foam properly; make sure the water is good and warm from the tap; and let everything rise twice as long as the recipe instructs.

In just a few minutes, the mixture starts to foam.

"How's the yeast looking?" she asks the children.

"It's looking yeasty," answers Logan.

"I love the smell of yeast," says Jansen.

Soon, the flour is mixed in ("I'm not a measurer - I'm more of a dumper," McQuivey admits), and it's time to start kneading. She uses a mixture of white and whole-wheat flour, which she grinds herself, generally in an electric grinder that churns out several cups in minutes. She also has a hand-cranked grinder - "in case the power goes out, or if the kids need good exercise." In keeping with their Mormon faith, the McQuiveys try to store a year's worth of food - wheat, beans, rice, and other nonperishables - in the basement of their small ranch-style house. At the moment, because they're planning home renovations, they're a bit shy of that goal: The basement holds a mere 800 pounds of wheat.

Each child is given a lump of dough to knead - the perfect release for youthful energy. It will rise, get punched down, and then be left to rise again, a slow process, but one that can be accomplished while doing other chores. McQuivey had already made a batch earlier in the day, so there's bread to sample, along with butter and homemade strawberry jam.

The loaves are sturdy yet light, at once substantial, chewy, nutty, and tender. It's easy to imagine them providing sustenance through a long Utah winter.

Or a New England one, for that matter.




Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.