Basic 100% Whole Wheat Bread 2 Loaves (24 servings)
- 1 to 2 T. yeast
- 2 ¼ to 2 ¾ c. warm liquid (milk, water, vegetable-cooking water, juice or stock)
- 1 to 4 T. honey, molasses or other sweetener
- 2 t. salt
- ¼ c. butter or oil (optional)
- 6 to 8 c. whole wheat flour
Conventional Method: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm liquid (about 85º or like baby’s bathwater) with 1 t. honey. When it bubbles up (5 to 10 minutes), add remaining honey, salt, butter and 3 c. flour. Beat by hand 200 strokes (use a wooden spoon if possible—it’s light and strong), or 2 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer. This strengthens the gluten and makes the bread rise more easily. Add 1 more C flour and beat briefly.
Sponge Method: Now, with either method, you have what is called a “sponge.” Some cooks prefer to let this sponge rise once before adding the rest of the flour and kneading the dough. They feel that this softens the bran and makes a lighter bread. It is entirely a matter of preference. To raise the sponge, cover it loosely and set in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour or place it in the refrigerator or other cool spot and let it rise overnight.
Rapid-Mix Method: In a saucepan, mix liquid, honey, salt and butter to about 120º (as hot as you can stick your finger in it without burning). Mix yeast with 2 C. flour in a large bowl and pour in hot liquid. Beat 300 strokes by hand or 2 or 3 minutes with electric mixer. Make sure you can see no undissolved yeast granules. Add 2 more c. flour and beat briefly.
Up to 3 eggs (omit 1/4 c. liquid for each egg)
Omit equal amount of flour for each ½ c. or more dry ingredient used:
- ¼ to 2/3 C wheat germ - 1/ t. to 1 C. dry milk powder - ½ C. dry milk powder - ½ C. bran - ¼ to ¾ C. gluten flour - 1 to 2 T. kelp powder (instead of salt) - ½ C. rolled oats or other grain - Up to 1 ½ C. rye flour (with 1 to 2 T. caraway seeds, if desired) - 2 to 3 T. nutritional yeast - ¼ C. sesame and/or sunflower seeds (ground or whole) - ¼ c. cornmeal - ½ C. chopped nuts - 1 C. raisins
Kneading: Add remaining flour (and optionals) until a soft dough results. If you use the larger amount of liquid or liquid sweetener, you will need the larger amount of flour, but the amount is never exact because the age of the flour and the humidity in the air can affect the amount of flour you need to use from day to day.
Turn dough out onto a firm surface. It should be low enough so that you can straighten your arms out comfortably. The kneading surface and the dough should be lightly floured. Knead the dough by pushing the palms of your hands firmly into the dough, folding the dough over towards you, giving it a quarter-turn and repeating – push, fold, turn – for 5 to 15 minutes. You can even slam the dough down hard every so often! Add more flour as you knead, but don’t allow the dough to become too dry, or your finished bread will be crumbly. Only experience can tell yu, but soon you will know when you have added enough flour. Sometimes the dough kneads well but still sticks to your hands – in that case it is preferable to oil the surface and your hands rather than flour them.
For some, kneading is a satisfying experience, but for those to whom it is a chore, or a physical impossibility, a dough hook on a heavy duty electric mixer or a food processor gives excellent results. Follow the directions given with your machine.
The dough is kneaded sufficiently when it is firm, springy (“elastic”) and smooth (“satiny”). The more you knead, the more height and finer texture your bread will have.
“Knead until the dough is silky like a baby’s bottom.”
Rising and Shaping:
Conventional Method: Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl large enough for the dough to double in size. (Just wash your mixing bowl in warm water, if it’s large enough, dry it, and oil or grease it – it will be nice and warm.) Turn the dough over so that the top is greased too. Cover loosely with a towel, foil, waxed paper or plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot, about 85º, until it has doubled in size. (You can let it rise in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight if you prefer.) The length of time it takes depends on the temperature and the amount of yeast used. 1 ½ hours is average. It’s okay to over-rise at this point. Punch down the down (literally!). You can let it rise once or several more times, if you wish (each successive rise will take less time) but this is not necessary. Shape into 2 loaves and place in 2 greased loaf pans (or other pans). If you used 6 to 7 C. flour, used 4x8-inch pans; 8 C. flour should fill 2 5x9-inch pans. Use a solid fat for greasing – oil is absorbed and makes the bread stick to the pan. Grease the tops of the loaves, to prevent drying and to give a golden crust. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Poke a corner of a loaf with your little finger. If it fills in immediately, it needs more rising. If the dent remains, it has risen enough. If the dough appears puffy and blistered, it has risen too far and will fall when baked. Punch down, shape and rise again.
Rapid Rise: Omit first rising in bowl. Shape kneaded bread and place in loaf pans as above. Place in a cold oven and turn oven to 200º for about 20 minutes. When bread has doubled, turn oven to 350º and bake for 45 minutes. (If you have an electric oven with top element, cover loaves loosely with foil while oven heats up and remove for the remaining baking time.)
Refrigerator Rise: Use 2 T. yeast and do not omit butter or oil (this method requires some fat in the dough). Let kneaded dough rest with the bowl turned upside down over it for 20 minutes. Shape into 2 loaves and place in greased pans as above. Oil tops of loaves and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in refrigerator from 2 to 24 hours. Take bread out of refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes while oven heats up.
Baking: Conventional Method: Preheat oven to 350 to 375º. Place loves on center rack and bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown. To test for doneness, take one loaf out of pan and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it’s done. Or stick a cake tester through the bottom – if it comes out clean, it’s done. Cool bread on racks, or place it crosswise on pans so that air can circulate around it as it cools. This keeps the crust from getting soggy. If you like a soft crust, brush it with melted butter or milk after you remove it from oven and/or cover it with a clean cloth while it cools.
Cold Oven Method: Let loaves rise until just above tops of pans and place in a cold oven. Set oven to 325 to 375º and bake loaves for 45 minutes. (If you have an electric oven, cover the bread loosely with foil wile the oven heats up, then remove it.) Some cooks feel that this method saves rising time and prevents bread from falling. It does save energy.
Approx. Per Serving: Cal 165; Prot 6 g; Carbo 32 g; Fiber 5 g; T Fat 3 g; 14% Calories from Fat; Chol 5 mg; Sod 200 mg.
Borrowed from Whole Foods for the Whole Family