Marynona’s Whole Wheat Caraway Bread

The only thing that tops the aroma of bread baking, is the taste of that fresh homemade bread, still warm and slathered in butter. Mmmmmmmm. Here’s another recipe that falls in the “Didn’t I post that already?” category, as it’s a family staple. Realized it hadn’t been blogged yet when my son Mitchell was looking for the recipe on and couldn’t find it.

My mother-in-law, Marynona, was a fabulous baker, and often entered her baked goods in county fairs around her home town of Albert Lea. This was one of her award winners—and I wish she was still around to tell me what year she earned a ribbon for this recipe she concocted. She would love to know that one of her creations has been passed on and enjoyed by others, as she was always a warm and welcoming hostess. So go ahead and give this recipe a whirl!

Afraid of yeast? (Yes, you!) That’s just silly! Making bread is no different than playing with Play-Doh, and you enjoyed THAT as a kid, right? The trick is to add your last cups of flour gradually so you keep your dough pliable. Too much flour makes for a stiff, un-kneadable mixture. Too little, and it’s a gooey mess. It’s a little trial and error, but you’ll know it was worth the effort when you proudly pull those steaming loaves of grainy goodness from your oven.

Speaking of flour, I’ve found a new flour I really like called “Ultragrain” at Costco. It claims to be a non-GMO whole wheat grain, and it bakes up like regular old white flour. Those of you with gluten intolerance may be able to use Ultragrain flour in baked goods—I’ve found it works for me. But that’s just my experience!

I had to change a couple things in my mother-in-law’s recipe. She had something called “lecithin granules” in her dough, and she and I once found it at a Whole Foods Market. But it’s not carried at the grocery stores I frequent, and I’m not even sure what it is, or what heath benefits it’s supposed to have! Given it was only 2 tablespoons between 4 loaves, I’ve opted to use chia seeds instead, giving you even more texture in this hearty bread.

Makes 4 small loaves or 2 large loaves

3 cups warm water
5 teaspoons dry yeast (or 2 envelopes)
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup honey
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons flax seed (ground*)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon salt
4 cups white flour, divided
2 cups whole wheat flour, divided

Fit standing mixer with dough hook. Pour warm water into large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with yeast, and add molasses and honey. Let rise for a few minutes until it starts to foam. Add oatmeal, wheat germ, oil, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seed, caraway seeds, salt, 2 cups white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Stir on low or setting 2 until ingredients are incorporated. Add 1 more cup white flour and the remaining 1 cup whole wheat flour. Again, stir on low or 2. Gradually add as much of the remaining 1 cup white flour as you can, until dough begins to pull away from sides of mixer as you stir. (You are looking for a dough that is sticking to the dough hook, and holding together some what. But you will be kneading more, so it doesn’t need to be totally Play-Doh texture just yet.)

Dust a large cutting board with white flour. Turn dough out onto board and sprinkle with more flour. Start kneading by bringing outside edges of bread into center and punching down. Continue doing this, sprinkling with flour when sticky, and pulling from all sides of mass until dough is smooth and elastic.

Grease large bowl with shortening and drop kneaded dough ball into bowl. Turn dough in bowl to coat with shortening. Let rise in warm place for 60 minutes, or until roughly doubled in size. (My warm place? I fill my kitchen sink with hot water, then put bowl in the water, covered with a damp dish towel. Back when I had a teeny tiny kitchen and my sink wasn’t large enough for raising dough, I put a few inches of hot water in the bathtub, and let the dough raise in there. Some people like to raise dough in a oven on low heat, but I find that dries the dough out. Others love the convenience of a bread maker for rising AND baking.)

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. While dough is rising, grease 4 small loaf pans, or 2 large ones with shortening. Once dough is risen, punch down and turn onto flour-dusted surface. (Photo 1 below) Divide into 4 or 2 even pieces. (Photo 2 below) Form into ball by bringing outside edges to center and punching into center. Repeat a few times. (Photo 3 below) Then shape ball into an oblong that will fit into loaf pans. Repeat with each piece of dough. (Photo 4 below)

Cover loaves with damp dish towel and let rise for 45-60 minutes, or until almost doubled in size again. (I add more hot water to my sink and rig up an oven rack on top of the sink. Then the loaves sit on the rack, and the towel holds in the moisture creating the perfect bread-rising environment.)

Once bread is risen (It it risen! It is risen indeed!), bake 4 loaves on center rack for 25-30 minutes, or 40-45 minutes for 2 loaves. Bread should sound somewhat hollow when tapped on top crust. (Photo 5 below) Let cool on wire rack until you can handle touching the pans, then remove from pans and let cool completely before storing in airtight container. (Ziplock bags are my go-to bread storage.)

You WILL want to dig into these loaves right away, but resist the urge. The bread will mush and flatten if sliced immediately. Best to let it cool 20-30 minutes before slicing and slathering with toppings of choice. My husband likes peanut butter and slices of tomato, and I do not get that combo. But it’s his mother’s recipe, so he can top it however he likes.

Funny homemade bread dough story! My co-worker Tucker was recently making pizza dough with his wife, and they accidentally used powdered sugar to dust the board before kneading dough. He said it just kept getting stickier and stickier, and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong! When they finally realized their error, they quickly salvaged the situation—by calling for pizza delivery.

Jorunn’s Hearty Flatbread

FullSizeRender-3It was worth the trip to Norway, just to have a piece of this awesome flatbread made by my cousin’s wife, Jorunn. She’s a retired home economics teacher, and a fabulous cook, and she came up with this recipe to serve with aged cheese, and smoked salmon or salty herring. It’s great as a side with soup, or works as breakfast when topped with boiled egg slices and cheese. We also fell in love with geitost (also spelled gjeitost, pronounced “yay-toast”) on our visit to Norway—a caramelized semi-hard cheese that is sweet and nutty and almost tastes like dessert. Pictured here is the flatbread served with sliced ham and geitost. Add a dollop of raspberry jam, and it’s a hearty treat done the Norwegian way. Used to be a challenge to find geitost in the U.S., as it was only at Kowalski’s or specialty cheese shops. Now Cub Foods and other grocery stores carry the blocks of Norwegian cheese wrapped in it’s signature red packaging.

It was a bit of a trick to convert Jorunn’s recipe from metric to Imperial measurements (American), but once we figured out the liter to cup conversion, we were able to commit the recipe to paper. This bread is chock-full of flax and oats and sunflower seeds, but no white flour, and is my only whole wheat bread recipe that can claim that. Normally, you need a heaping helping of white flour or else the bread won’t rise. Since this is meant to stay flat and be like a soft cracker, rising is not an issue.

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup salted or unsalted sunflower seeds
½ cup flaxseeds, ground*
½ cup oat bran
1½ teaspoons salt
2½ cups boiling water
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup rye flour
2½ teaspoons yeast
½ cup vegetable oil

In large bowl, combine oatmeal, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, oat bran, and salt. Stir in boiling water with wooden spoon until all ingredients are moistened. Let stand until mixture is luke warm. Add whole wheat flour, rye flour, yeast, and vegetable oil, and stir until ingredients are incorporated. Set in a sink of warm water, and cover with a clean, damp, kitchen towel. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°. Line large (11″x17″) baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread bread mixture onto lined pan, using a spatula to press dough down into pan. Cover with damp towel again, and let rise another 30 minutes.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until brown around edges, and dough begins to pull away from edges slightly. When fresh from oven, cut bread into 20-24 pieces with pizza cutter, and move squares to cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled, store in container with lid set slightly ajar to keep bread from getting too moist.

NOTE: Flaxseed needs to be ground in order for your system to be able to utilize it’s health benefits. If you buy it whole, you can run small amounts of the seeds through a coffee grinder to get a quick, course grind.