Long ago and far away, in a strange land called “Chicago, 1968,” people really did eat Wonder Bread, and Pepperidge Farm Bread was considered cutting edge. Artisanal bread? Never heard of it. But the counter culture, aka “hippies,” had discovered whole wheat bread and were busy fashioning brick-like loaves heavily sweetened with honey. Hey, man. Picking up on this, a restaurant called “Jerome’s” began featuring a bread called “Whole Wheat Millet Bread,” and it became a raging success. People went to Jerome’s just to eat this bread. Why was it so popular? I would guess that at the same time hippies were discovering whole wheat, it was also discovered that whole wheat bread tasted like tree bark. But adding millet made whole wheat bread crunchy and fun to eat, and adding a little white flour lightened the loaf.
If you haven’t ever made a yeast bread, all I can say is that it isn’t hard as long as you internalize the fact that yeast likes to be warm. So dissolve the yeast in nice, warm water that’s flirting with being hot water, let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot, and let the shaped dough rise on the baking sheet under a towel to stay warm.
The Something for (almost) Nothing factor here is that millet, aka “birdseed” is very inexpensive but contributes to a wonderful bread that toasts beautifully, being crunchy on the outside, and soft inside. If you make the whole recipe, you can freeze three small loaves and have delicious toast for breakfast for weeks.
Important tip: How do you know when it is finished baking? Upend the loaf on a dish towel–the bottom should be deep, golden brown. If it’s pale, it’s not done.
Jerome’s Whole Wheat Millet Bread
Two large loaves or four small loaves3/4 cup honey (see Notes below) two packets (1/4 oz) yeast 3 cups very warm water 1/4 cup oil 4-1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1 tablespoon salt 1 cup millet 2 to 3 cups all-purpose white flour 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk Dissolve honey and yeast in the warm water; let stand until bubbly, about five or ten or 15 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Stir in oil, 3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour, and salt. Let rise, covered in a warm place for about one hour.
Stir in remaining 1 cup whole wheat flour and the millet. Stir in all-purpose flour, 1/2 a cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Knead dough for about five minutes until smooth and elastic. Let rise until double, about one hour.
Punch down; let rise, covered in a warm place until double (second rising). Punch dough down and divide into two large pieces or four smaller pieces. Shape each piece into round loaves. Put loaves onto greased baking sheets; cover, and let rest 20 minutes. Brush loaves with beaten egg mixture. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven, 30 to 45 minutes, until nicely brown.
Notes: I made half this recipe for this blog–it’s an easy recipe to cut in half if you just want to try it. Millet can be purchased at your local health food store, often in bulk. I used King Arthur Whole Wheat flour. You can cut way down on the honey if you don’t like bread to be sweet. For a half a recipe, I only used several tablespoons of honey. The original recipe called for 3 ounces cake yeast. The dried yeast works fine, though.