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Shredded Wheat cereal gives this rich, brown, molasses-scented bread just a hint of whole wheat flavor and texture. We think it originated in the '50s, because many of us Baby Boomers remember our moms making it, but our moms don't recall having it when they were young. At any rate, it's a staple of every New England community cookbook.
3 full-size Shredded Wheat biscuits
1 cup milk
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons water*
2 tablespoons butter, melted or softened
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
*You'll probably need to use only 1/4 cup water in the summer, when your flour is more moist.
Manual Method: In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the wheat biscuits and milk till the biscuits are soft. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) till it's smooth. This dough is (and should be) quite sticky; resist the urge to add additional flour. If you're kneading by hand, try kneading on a lightly greased work surface, rather than on a floured work surface. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it'll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk.
Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. About 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle, check the dough and adjust its consistency as necessary with additional flour or water; the finished dough should be soft and supple. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and fashion it into a loaf shape. Place the loaf in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pan, cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap (or an acrylic dough cover), and allow the loaf to rise for 1 hour, or until it's crested 1 to 2 inches over the rim of the pan.
Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking if it appears to be browning too quickly. The internal temperature of the finished loaf should be about 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. For a softer crust, spray it with butter spray, or brush it with melted butter or margarine. Yield: 1 loaf.
Nutrition information per serving (1/2-inch slice, 56g): 124 cal, 1.8g fat, 3g protein, 19g complex carbohydrates, 4g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 5mg cholesterol, 215mg sodium, 94mg potassium, 23RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 65 calcium, 53mg phosphorus.