Books For Cooks: My Uncle John’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread

By MaryAnn Miano

Has a close relative ever inspired you to bake? The book (part of the Catherine Henning Collection at the Colts Neck Library) “Uncle John’s Original Bread Book” by author John Rahn Braue` has shared recipes collected in his family for generations. His father was a master bread baker who brought Old World traditions to America, with recipes handed down from family to family and baker to baker.

Expect to find more than 250 recipes for breads, biscuits, griddle cakes, roles, and crackers. The collection is extensive and varied and features the use of yeast breads made with wheat, all-purpose flour, rye, graham and soybean flour, corn meal, oatmeal, and other grains, along with non-yeast quick breads.

The book is conveniently organized into five parts: The Introduction, which discusses bread-making methods, baking tools, healthful hints, and a glossary of baking terms; Fermenting and Leavening, with pointers and recipes for sour dough, yeast, and other starters; Quick Breads, including muffins, biscuits, doughnuts, griddle cakes, and waffles; Yeast and Specialty Breads, with many recipes for grain loaves and casseroles; and finally Other Memories from the Bakery Kitchen, which offer some helpful hints on baking hams and poultry.

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at Irish oatmeal bread, Italian bread sticks, French or Alsatian sourdough bread, Jewish honey cakes, or German buttermilk rye, you will find a tried and true recipe for it in this book. If you’d like to venture into more exotic bread baking, it’s all here. What’s more, the book recites a history of bread and fascinating bread lore. Tucked in between the recipes are dozens of philosophical hints on the good life, good baking, good humor, and good eating.

My Uncle John’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread 

2 packages active dry yeast

1 cup water, warm

8 teaspoons salt

½ cup molasses (honey, syrup, or beet sugar)

¼ cup shortening (oil, butter, or margarine)

2 cups milk, scalded

8 cups 100% whole wheat flour (unsifted)

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large mixing bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, incorporate milk, shortening, molasses, and salt and stir until smooth. Gradually pour this mixture into the yeast mixture bowl and stir. Add half the flour; stir until smooth. Beat for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining flour; beat until stiff.

Turn out onto floured board and knead for 12 minutes, or until the dough springs back at the touch of a finger. Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise in warm place 40-60 minutes. Punch the dough down.

Cut the dough in 3 equal portions and shape into loaves. Place in greased bread pans. Cover and let rise 30-40 minutes. Bake in a 425 F oven for 12 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake for at least 30 more minutes. Brush the tops of the bread with butter or oil and cool in the pans for a few moments before turning out on cooling racks.


Recipe from Uncle John’s Original Bread Book, Page 106, By: John Rahn Braue`, Galahad Books:  1965