Honey Bear Bread

When I was a teenager, I became interested in knowing how to bake bread, having only eaten commercial bread from the supermarket. My mother had a 1960s “Amy Vanderbilt Cookbook” which had a lot of bread recipes, so I looked into that. I started with a recipe for white bread, not expecting anything that smelled so addictively wonderful.

I was very pleased when, many years of adulthood later, my 10-year old came home from school with a fresh loaf of this Honey Bear Bread, carried in a paper bag with handles. Her whole class had learned about baking bread, and the bag itself had the recipe and all kinds of information that you’d have to know in order to bake your very first loaf of bread. Here is the recipe from the bag, which was supplied by Fleischmann’s yeast. So thank you, Fleischmann’s, for helping to bring the love of baking bread to a new generation!

1 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 package Fleischmann rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
½ cups hot water (between 125 to 130°)
1 ½ cups +½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon oil or margarine

Mix together unbleached flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add hot water, honey, and oil. Stir vigorously, 2 min. or 200 strokes. Then stir in whole wheat flour until well blended. If the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to ball up, add a bit more water.

Preparing for Kneading
Sprinkle ½ cup whole wheat flour over the dough and let it rest for 5 min. Scrape dough off the edges of the bowl down to the very bottom, until the bowl to cover all sides of the dough. Dust the work surface with flour and dump the dough onto the flour.

Flatten the dough, fold the dough in half, press it down with the heel of your hand, give it one quarter turn, and repeat. Do this between 8 and 10 min., until the dough springs back quickly when lightly punched. Cut the dough in half. Smoothie each lump into a ball, cover each with a kitchen towel or waxed paper, and let it rest for 20 min.

Shaping the Loaves
Punch each lump down to a flat circle, then fold two edges of the dough to make the point of a rough triangle. From the point of the triangle to its base, roll the dough into a cylinder (like a jelly roll). Pinch together the ends of the cylinder, as well as the seam between the cylinder and the edge of the dough, to seal. Place loaves seam side down in 2 greased 8" x 4" loaf pans.

Place pans in a warm place, covered with a towel, until dough doubles in size (50-60 min.). A barely-warm oven (90°) is an ideal place for rising.

Bake at 370°F for 35-40 min. To test for dumbness, remove bread from pan and tap the bottom and sides. Fully-baked bread will sound hollow, while a dull thud means you need to bake it longer.

Before slicing, cool on a wire rack until almost completely cool.

Shape dough into round loaves, or long loaves.
Create animal shapes, like bears or turtles.
Make braided bread or rolls.

Instead of honey, use molasses, maple syrup, apple concentrate, or mashed bananas.
Add caraway seed, cumin seed, or dill seed.
Add cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, dried parsley or onion flakes.

Texture variations
Add chopped nuts, raisins, chopped apples or chopped, dried apricots, cracked wheat or wheat sprouts.
Add ½ cup rolled oats, corn meal, or rye flour.


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