My mother-in-law Sherry raised five boys, and when we all get together with my husband’s family, the stories of how much they all could eat growing up are legendary. My husband Matt often talks fondly of a day in high school when he ate his way through an entire loaf of bread, making one PB & J after another, until there was nothing left but crumbs.
As I’ve gotten to know my mother-in-law more over the nearly 9 years I’ve been married to Matt, I have found that she is one of those cooks who possesses that sense of intuition that many aspiring chefs long for, but that takes years to acquire. Rather than following recipes, she makes things by feel and taste and smell, and I’ve been hard-pressed over the years to try and get any recipe off of her since she doesn’t use them.
Two Christmases ago, my sister-in-law Kim finally sat down, all patience and determination, and made Sherry record some of her boys’ beloved favorites so that we wives could have the gift of being able to bake up a piece of their childhood for our husbands and for our own children. In true Sherry-style, the recipes are a bit imprecise and with a lot of steps that require that you learn to trust the process, rather than just what it says on a piece of paper.
Growing up, my husband and his four brothers rarely ate store-bought bread, as Sherry made up as many loaves of this bread each week as their hungry family of 7 required.
Today, I share this special family recipe with you.
Sherry’s Wheat Bread
- 7 cups white flour, divided
- 8 cups whole wheat flour, divided
- 5 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons yeast
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2/3 cup oil
- 2 tablespoons salt
- Mix 4 cups white flour, 4 cups whole wheat flour, and the water, yeast, honey, and oil in the bowl of a large mixer. Jog until wet and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the salt and remaining 3 cups white flour + 4 cups wheat flour and knead for 8 minutes.
- Slather some oil on the counter or on a bread board and divide dough into four loaves. Grease four 8″ loaf pans, form dough into loaves, and let rise in loaf pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 minutes.
Note: This bread freezes really well, especially when you use bread bags (I just reuse the ones from when we buy store-bought bread), and it also works well for sandwiches.