On an afternoon a few weeks back, 23 bees flew through the air conditioning vents and into our apartment, where they bumped up against the front window until we swatted them or trapped them and tossed them outside.
A beekeeper visited the next week, cut a hole in the bedroom ceiling and sucked out 20,000 bees with a modified Shop-Vac. He pulled 40 pounds of honeycomb from the rafters. One of these chunks he left behind, freshly produced by our tiny friends and oozing the best honey we'd ever had.
There are plenty of edible things you can do with honey, but one of our favorites is baking whole wheat bread with it. This recipe is from an old standard, the Red Star Centennial Bread Sampler, produced by the aforementioned yeast company on its 100th anniversary in 1981.
Whole Wheat Bread
• Mix 2 cups of white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour with two packets of yeast and a tablespoon of salt. • In a saucepan or microwavable bowl, mix 1 cup milk and 1 cup water with ½ cup of honey and 3 tablespoons shortening (we used butter). Heat it to between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit (too cold and the yeast won't activate, too hot and you'll kill it) and slowly pour it into the dry ingredients bowl. We use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. • Add one egg and another 1 1/2 cups wheat flour. It won't mix right unless you do this last part by hand with a wooden spoon. Yes, it's hard. Sorry. Try not to break the spoon. After you've added the wheat flour (be sure to scrape the bottom and get the dough to one uniform consistency), add as much white flour as it takes to get the dough firm enough to knead on a floured countertop (about a cup). • Once you've got it on the countertop, knead in as much white flour as it takes (another cup, tops) to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter or your hands. • Coat the inside of a bowl with cooking spray or butter or olive oil or something greasy and roll the ball of dough around to coat its sides (this is to allow it to rise unimpeded, which you will now let it do for one hour or so). • Punch it down then form it into loaves or buns or rolls and let those rise for another half hour or so, then bake them at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Place on cooling racks. Eat.
We let our first batch get a little too crisp on the outside, which let the ever-so-slightly bitter tinge of the whole wheat linger a bit longer than is ideal, but the flavor was excellent. Just be mindful of the size of your rolls/loaves and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.