Saturday, March 21, 2009

100% Whole Wheat Bread

I finally got my Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes from the library, and I am in love. It must be returned in a week, and I think I'm ready to commit to buying my own copy. I've tried the whole wheat bread, light wheat artisan bread, pita, sticky caramel pecan rolls, and challah, and have been very pleased with the ease and great taste of all of the recipes. Next on my list: English muffins, soft pretzels, chocolate filled beignets, and cinnamon raisin bread.

My first couple of tries at the whole wheat bread did not go well - I had flat and burned bread. I was cooking it too long and not filling the bread pan enough. But I think I have it figured out now, and it is by far the best whole wheat bread recipe I've tried. Although there is a lot of rising time involved, the hands on time is pretty minimal. And no kneading! The full recipe is supposed to make 3 loaves (but I only get 2 loaves and a couple pitas out of mine), and the dough will last up to five days in the fridge. I love being able to make just one loaf at a time. So check it out:

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 1/2 TB yeast
1 TB plus 1 tsp salt (I use kosher)
1/2 cup honey
5 TB neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
6 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
12 tsp gluten (this is my own addition, I have only used it in one batch so far, but that batch turned out the best..I use a little less flour when I put in the gluten - which you can buy in the baking aisle at the grocery store for about $1.50)

1. Mix the yeast, salt, oil, and honey with the milk and water.

2. Mix in the dry ingredients, without kneading. I do it by hand (still haven't decided between Bosch and KitchenAid), but you can use a mixer with a dough hook. The dough will be really wet, but it's supposed to be.)

3. Cover with a tight fitting lid, but not an air tight lid. (I don't have a lid for a big bowl that is not air tight, so I just cover it with Glad Press and Seal, and that seems to do the trick). Allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2-3 hours. (I've never seen my dough collapse, I just leave it for 3 hours).

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, or refrigerate the dough in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.

5. TO BAKE: Lightly grease a 9x4x3" nonstick loaf pan. Using wet hands (weird, I know, but the dough is so wet, you really have to have wet hands to be able to handle it) scoop out a cantaloupe-size handful of dough. Sprinkle with flour and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating as you go. (So I'm not very good at this part - see this video to watch the authors do it. I do the best I can, and try to end up with an oval loaf shape after about 45 seconds).

6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan, filling the pan slightly more than half full.

7. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes (if it's non-refrigerated dough, it's usually good to go after an hour and a quarter, with refrigerated dough I let it rise 2 hours plus). Flour and slash the top of the loaf (I don't do this part).

8. Place loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until deeply browned and firm. (WARNING: I burned a few loaves by using this time frame. My loaves only take 25-30 minutes).

9. Remove from pans while hot, cool completely before slicing.

I read somewhere that if you grind your own wheat, grind some just prior to mixing the flour into the bread. The warmth of the freshly ground wheat will help with rising.

With my bit of leftover dough after my 2 loaves, I make a couple of pitas. The pitas are the easiest thing in the world, and they are SO GOOD. Post to come.

If you are into bread making, or bread eating, I recommend you check out this book, or at least check out the authors' website. It has a lot of tips and they post new recipes every now and then.


  1. I keep wanting to bake whole wheat bread. I'd like to be able to make it without salt. Do you think this is possible? Does bread need salt for everything to work right? This recipe sure includes a lot of salt. Also what really is gluten?
    The other bread I have thought about is sourdough. Is there a recipe in you book for whole wheat sourdough?
    Bottom line: Get this perfected before I come again because I want some :)
    And the Challah; we could have our own shabbot service on Friday night!

  2. And after seeing your posts I may be buying it too! Thanks for sharing :D