Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Amazing 100% Whole Wheat Bread

I found this recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Bread recently, and since it promised to rise just as light and fluffy as white bread, I had to try it.  It ended up rising better than some white or mixed white/wheat loaves I've tried.

Free Range Mama at My Healthy Green Family wrote that she had doubled the recipe straight across, so I felt confident in halving it straight across for my first batch.  I wanted a smaller batch for my first attempt in case we didn't like it for some reason.  Next time I will probably make the 4-loaf batch and freeze a couple loaves. 

After halving the ingredients, I followed the recipe as written except that I didn't hand-knead for 15 minutes.  I have a Bosch Universal mixer, so I kneaded it in the mixer for 5 minutes.  If you are using a KitchenAid mixer, I'd suggest kneading for around 10 minutes.

I'm in the market for a grain mill so I can grind wheat at home, but until then, I use 100% white whole wheat flour made from soft white wheat. Here's my version of the recipe, which makes two loaves:

100% Whole Wheat Bread

3 cups of 100% whole wheat flour
Up to 3/4 cup of seeds (optional - I used 1 Tablespoon each of chia, sunflower and sesame seeds)
2-1/2 cups tepid water
2-1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (at room temperature; make sure it is not warm)
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 cup lukewarm water (make sure it is not too warm)
3 Tablespoons butter, melted, then cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
Approximately 3 cups additional 100% whole wheat flour

Combine 3 cups of flour with seeds and 2-1/2 cups water in large mixing bowl or in bowl of stand mixer.  Make sure all flour is moistened.  Batter should be neither dry nor watery.  Add additional flour or water by the tablespoonful until a balanced consistency is reached.  Cover with a dish towel, or if using a Bosch mixer, attach both lids.  Let flour mix sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Melt 3 Tablespoons butter, then set it aside to cool to room temperature.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to mix and knead the dough, combine 1/4 cup warm water, 1 Tablespoon honey and 2-1/4 teaspoons dry yeast in a 2-cup measuring cup.  (Make sure you use a cup at least this large as the yeast mixture will -- hopefully -- rise and expand quite a lot.)  Give this mixture a quick stir and set it aside.

Once the flour mixture has soaked and the yeast mixture has proofed, add yeast mixture, 1/4 cup lukewarm water, the room temperature melted butter and 1 teaspoon salt to the flour mixture; mix well.  Add 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 cups of 100% whole wheat flour and combine until dough pulls away cleanly from the sides of the mixing bowl.  Knead for 5 minutes in the Bosch mixer, for approximately 10 minutes in a KitchenAid mixer, or 15 minutes by hand.  Dough should not be sticky, but should be very soft by the time you are done kneading.  I add little bits of flour as needed, but I prefer to err on the side of too little flour rather than too much.

Place kneaded dough in a large well-oiled bowl.  Cover with a damp dish towel and set to rise until double, up to 2 hours.  I placed mine inside my microwave oven and it took an hour to double.

Once dough has doubled, scrape it (and any oil that was in the bowl) onto the counter.  Punch down and knead by hand a few times.  I prefer using the oil in the bowl and on the dough to keep the dough from sticking rather than dusting the counter with additional flour that might make the dough too dry. 

Divide the dough and shape it into two loaves.  Oil your loaf pans if necessary (mine are non-stick so I don't) and place dough in pans.  Set them to rise until double, up to 2 hours.  I placed mine back in the microwave, and instead of covering them with a cloth, I placed a small bowl of warm water in with them.  They took 30 minutes to double.

When loaves have nearly doubled, heat oven to 350°F.  Once loaves have doubled, bake for approximately 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 200°F.  Remove pans from oven and cool the bread, in the pans, on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and completely before slicing.

I store the loaf I am using by wrapping it in plastic and leaving it on the counter.  I double-wrap the cooled extra loaf and freeze it until needed, then thaw it on the counter top.  I find it more convenient to slice the bread before freezing it, but don't always manage to do so.

This post is being shared at the Hearth and Soul Hop with Premeditated Leftovers, at The Gathering Spot #1 with Mamal Diane, and at Delicious Dish Tuesday with Full-Time Mama.
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