Wild Rice Bread

     Attention bread bakers — this is our new favorite bread! I found the recipe on the allrecipes.com app; then made just a few minor adjustments. The original recipe says this makes five loaves, however I divide it into fourths and it makes tall loaves. Wild rice and molasses gives this tender, moist bread a nutty flavor. Warm it and serve with soups, salads, or main dishes, toast it for breakfast, or use it for the very best grilled cheese sandwich! This recipe can also easily be cut in half.
Wild Rice Bread
2 (1/4 oz.) pkg. active dry yeast (or about 2 tablespoons bulk yeast)
4 1/2 cups warm water (110 - 115°), divided use
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice*
About 14 cups all-purpose flour (or use part bread flour &/or white whole wheat flour)

1.     In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water. Add 1 tablespoon sugar; let stand for 5 minutes.
2.     To the yeast mixture, add the oil, molasses, salt and remaining 3 1/2 cups water and remaining sugar; mix well. Add wild rice.
3.     Stir in about 10 to 12 cups  of flour to form a soft dough. (Add more flour as as you knead to keep dough from being sticky . . . but AVOID adding too much— the dough should remain soft and very pliable.) Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes (kneading can also be done in a standard-size Kitchen-Aid type mixer, however plan to spend a little time cleaning it afterwards – dough tends to work itself up onto the head of the mixer).
4.     Place in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
This is what the dough looked like after the first rise.

5.     When double is doubled in bulk, punch it down. Re-cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down again. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into four portions. Shape each into a loaf. Place in four greased or sprayed 9x 5x 3” loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Loaves have gone through a second rise and are ready to go into a preheated oven.

6.     Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 20 to 30 minutes or golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. If desired, brush loaves with just a little butter as they cool – it will make the tops shine.
Out of the oven and ready to eat!

*I found a 4 oz. pkg. of Wild Rice locally; cooked according to package directions, it yielded 2 1/2 cups prepared rice. I bagged, labeled and froze the remaining rice for another batch of bread. I suppose you could reduce the rice in the recipe to 1 1/4 cups and then you’d have an equal amount for the next batch of bread. Wild Rice is also available in bulk at some specialty stores.

Baking Tips:
·      If you measure the oil first and then the molasses, as listed in the recipe above, the molasses will fall right out of the measuring cup without scraping.
·      To shorten the proofing in steps #4 & 5 above, I use the “Bread Proof” setting on my oven. In my oven the rising time is cut by about half.  No “Bread Proof” setting – a similar environment can be created placing the bread (covered with a towel) in a gas oven warmed by a pilot light or in an electric oven that has been turned on at 200° for one minute, then turned off.  To create a moist “proof box,” set a pan of hot water on the bottom rack and place the rolls on a rack above the water.
·      Testing for “double in size”: Press the tips of two fingers lightly and quickly 1/2”  into the dough.  If the dent stays, it is double. 
·      To shape yeast bread loaves: With a rolling pin, roll dough into a sheet about a 9 x 12” rectangle (roll gently but firmly to get rid of gas bubbles in the dough as well as to shape). Using your hands, roll up dough like a jelly roll, starting at long side.  Pinch edges to seal, and then fold sealed ends under. Place, seam-side down, in greased pans.      
·      To check for doneness: When the baking time is up, remove one loaf and tap the bottom or sides. It should be done if it sounds hollow.

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