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100% Whole Wheat Bread

June 12th, 2008

The Bread

This blog post has been a long time coming.  Every time I make bread, and I make it often, I think I should post it!  Well, lately I’ve been in the posting mood, so it’s your lucky day!  This bread recipe has been such a blessing to me; the bread comes out perfect every time (with the exception of using bad flour).  I like to use whole wheat, but sometimes I sneak in 1/2 cup of regular flour.  You would definitely want to do that if you don’t have good quality whole-wheat flour.  Here are all of the tricks I have learned from making bread over the past 18 months or so:

  1. Temperature matters!  Use 120 degree f. water to get the yeast activated.
  2. Make sure your yeast rises when you activate if, if it doesn’t buy more, seriously.
  3. Use high quality whole-wheat flour (as mentioned before)
  4. The runnier the honey, the better.
  5. Kneading is important!  Do it for about 10 minutes.
  6. Use a dish with water in it on a second rack in the oven below the bread as it bakes

One more tip I received a while back was to add some wheat-gluten to the recipe.  I am still working on trying that so I can’t really comment on it yet.  The tip I received was to add 1/2 cup of wheat-gluten in place of some flour in this recipe.  Like I said, I haven’t done that yet so I won’t include it below.  Here’s what I do:

Yeast RisingPouring the yeast

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup 120 degree water (my tap on the hottest setting puts out the perfect temperature!)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water (I use a tea kettle to heat the water up while the yeast activates)
  • 1/2 cup 120 degree water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast (I get mine in bulk from our co-op grocery store)
  • 1/3 cup honey + 1 tablespoon (molasses or maple syrup could work too)
  • 1/3 cup dry powdered milk
  • 1/3 cup oil (I use olive or canola, but grapeseed might work too)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Mixing in the flourKneading!Directions:

  1.  Combine the 1/3 cup 120 degree water with the 1 tablespoon honey and dissolve the yeast in it.  Let the yeast sit and activate for about 5 minutes.  It will more than double in size so use a dish large enough to hold it.
  2. Add the boiling water in a mixing bowl with the salt, oil, honey, and dried milk and whisk them all together to dissolve.
  3. Add the 1/2 cup 120 degree water and whisk some more.  This will cool down the mixture after everything has been dissolved with the boiling water making it cool enough to add the yeast.
  4. Add the yeast mixture and whisk.
  5. Add the flour 1 cup at a time and mix after each cup with a wooden spoon.
  6. Flour a counter or surface to knead on, then pour out the dough onto the surface.  The dough may be very moist, this is OK!
  7. Either oil your hands, flour the top of your dough or both and begin kneading.  To “knead” I simply push down on the dough very firmly, as if to flatten it.  Then I fold it in half back on top of itself and repeat with twisting  motions and flattening motions.
  8. Add more flour (1/2 handful at a time) as needed until when kneading the dough does not stick to your hands any more.  I usually just sprinkle the surface (top and bottom) of the dough and knead that in.
  9. After about 10 minutes of kneading your dough should be at a good consistency.  One trick I heard is that if you push down on the dough with your finger it should spring back fairly quickly.
  10. Wipe some oil in your mixing bowl (or a new bowl) and place the dough ball into the bowl.  Cover the bowl and place it in a warm place (at least 75 degrees is good — but not too hot) for about an hour (or until it doubles in size).  On a hot day (or in a hot oven) the dough will rise quicker so keep an eye on it.
  11. After this, punch the dough down in the bowl.  This is an attempt to get all the air out of it, so punch it a bunch of times then squeeze it and shape it so it will fit into your bread loaf pan.
  12. Place it in the bread loaf pan and cover it lightly again.  Let it rise again for another hour or until it doubles.  Mine always grows so big so I keep a close eye on it at this point.  Once it is about the right size for a loaf of bread I bake it.
  13. Bake your bread at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then cover lightly with aluminum to prevent over-browning and bake for another 20 minutes.  At this point I test my bread with a thermometer for 190 degrees Fahrenheit inside.  If it’s not quite there, go ahead and leave it in for a few more minutes, otherwise take it out — it’s done!
  14. Remove the bread from the loaf pan and cool for a few minutes or longer then ENJOY home-made delicious whole wheat bread!!!!

Done Kneading, let it riseDone Rising, let it bake

I hope you enjoy it!
By the way, the leftover strawberry chiffon shortcake was DELICIOUS — I just finished a piece!

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