Tuesday, May 4, 2010

whole wheat bread recipe

There is so much to say about the benefits of whole grains. Before I get into it, I wanted to post  my bread recipe.  My friend, Kristi, came over for a bread lesson a couple of weeks ago and I have been meaning to get the recipe to her.

Whole Wheat Bread
4 c. warm water
2 T. Saf Yeast
1/3 c. honey (or agave nectar)
4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. Vital Wheat Gluten (or 1/2 c. white flour)- can get it at a Bosch store or Macey's
1 T. salt
1 1/2 T. Dough Enhancer- can get it at a Bosch store or Macey's
1/3 c. canola oil (or soy lecithin)

additional wheat- usually 4 to 5 cups
This is my wheat grinder.  My mom bought it for me 5 years ago and it is still going strong.  I even melted the lid one time and called the manufacturer and they were so nice and sent me another one for free, plus a free cookbook.  It is the only one I have used so I can't really compare it to others on the market.  For bread, I use a medium grind at medium speed.  

Here is my line up of refrigerated stuff.  They all live on the same shelf.
Lecithin comes in liquid or granule form.  They liquid is more like a goop and is stickier than honey.  The granules are easier to work with.  This is supposed to help the bread hold together better and keep it moist longer.  To be honest, I don't know if it makes a huge difference.  Oil works fine, but I bought this stuff so I am going to use it.
Put three cups of the water into the mixing bowl.  Add the Vital Wheat Gluten (or white flour) and the four cups of flour.  Mix on high for 15-20 minutes with the wire whisk attachment.  
This develops the gluten in the bread.  I learned this from my friend, Victoria, who bakes a ton of bread.  By developing the gluten with 1/2 the flour in the beginning, this method has saved me time and saved my mixer.  I almost killed my KitchenAid when I used mix all the ingredients first and then try and develop the gluten.  I was kind of hoping it would die so I could get a Bosch.  But it won't die.  If I had a Bosch, I would be able to mix more and not have to cover my mixer with a towel.  If I don't cover it when I I mix this stuff, it ends up all over the place.  I learned the hard way.
While the gluten is developing... measure 1 cup of warm water in a liquid measuring cup.  Add the 1/3 cup honey.  
I impressed Kristi with my water displacement measuring skills.  Honey is a pain to get out of a measuring cup so I just add it to the water until it measure 1 1/3 cup.
Stir and let it sit.
Prepare four bread pans by spraying them with baking spray.  
I started out making bread with metal pans but was always looking for ways to make the crust not so crusty.  Then, I started using glass.  That was better.  Then I picked up this Le Creuset pan at TJ Maxx and that was even better.  Finally, my sister in law gave me a cast iron pan for Christmas.  I was so excited (and rude) that I asked for another (at the time, she was working at a store that sold them).  Those are my favorite.  These bake up a tender crust, not a bitter, tough, crust.  
Prepare an area to shape and cut the bread.
I wash off the counter and then pour and olive oil puddle about the size of my hand.  Using olive oil instead of extra flour makes it so the crust is less tough (can you tell I am not a whole wheat crust fan?. I also get out the scrapers.  The white one bends and I use it to pull the bread out of the bowl.  The metal one I use to cut the bread and scrape the gunk off the counter when I am done.  
By the time you have prepared the pans and the counter, the flour/water/gluten mixture will look and sound different.  It will look less like cake batter and more like a big ball of gum.  Amazing, right?  The gluten is what makes a chewy bread.  You can slice it and make a sandwich and it won't crumble.  
If your yeast was good and the temperature of the water was not too hot or cold, your yeast/honey/water mixture will have grown to look like a big foamy root beer float.  
When the gluten is developed (the dough will be good and gummy, you can't over mix this) add the the yeast mixture and mix. 
Make sure to cover the whole thing with a towel or plan on wiping down your cabinets. 
Switch to the dough hook and add the salt and Dough Enhancer.  Slowly add 4 to 5 more cups of flour.  Depending on the humidity of the air and how much water you started out with, it will take more or less additional flour.

When the dough pulls off the sides of the bowl, it is ready.

Dump the dough onto the counter.  Shape the bread to make a smooth, flat, ball.  Cut into four equal pieces.  Flatten each piece and roll into a loaf.  Place smooth side up into a pan.  Place each pan in a large plastic bag (I got these at the Bosch store).  
Set on the counter to rise.  I put it on the (not turned on) stove because the stone counter tops are cold.  
When the dough has risen to about 1/2 inch above the edge of the pan, it is ready to bake.  It will take about 40 minutes.  
Place the loaves in a COLD oven.  Close the oven and turn it to bake at 350 degrees.  Set the timer for 38 minutes.  
I learned this method at my local Bosch store and for a bread rising phobic like me it works perfectly.
When the timer goes off, you will have perfectly baked bread!
Remove from the pans and let it cool on a rack.  

When we were dating, I was talking about the awesome 70's band and asked him, "Do you like Bread?"  He answered, "Yes, it's my favorite grain product."  He loves bread so so so much.  He also likes Bread but he REALLY likes bread.  Maybe I wouldn't go through the trouble if he didn't love it so much.  At any given time during the day or night, I can hear the door to the toaster oven open and shut... Karl making himself a piece of toast.  

From start to finish the process takes about 2 hours.   But the hands on time is only about 30 minutes.   I make four loaves at a time and it doesn't last us a week.  I only eat about 3 slices every batch because I don't think my body loves bread.  

I have been experimenting with ground flax seed.  1/4 cup was too much and weighed the bread down.  2 T. worked fine.  

I know I probably didn't explain everything very well.   So, if you have questions, ask away.  If you want a lesson, you are welcome to join me for my next batch.  


Lindsay said...

Those are really nice cooking pictures!
Homemade bread is my favorite, and the band is pretty great too. :)

Kari said...

You rock! I don't know how you do all you do. I don't have time to go to the store to buy whole wheat bread let alone bake it!

I am so excited for you guys, you make cute kids, it would be a shame to stop at 2. ;)

Lukas was sad on Sunday when we left the church. He kept crying, I want to go to Eva's house again! I really think he's got a thing for her!

Dianne said...

Where did you find the SAF in the jar with the screw-on lid? I have only bought the vacuum sealed brick and it makes a mess once it is open. Glad to see you've discovered the joy of freshly ground wheat bread :) I have a whole bunch of fresh ground grain recipes if you're interested.

Abbigail said...

Beautiful and looks delicious. I would love to try some!
I didn't even know you had that grinder. I suppose this is something you have had since you lived in Chicago?
The process looks a bit more time intensive than my get out the frozen rhoads bread and let rise.
I will have to get a lesson this summer when I am visiting.
Ryan too ADORES bread. I often hear the toaster oven going as well. Gotta have the oven like Gummas. Kitty also loves bread but is afraid of home made bread. Hopefully she will get over that soon.

pamela said...

i can't wait to try it! i have some recipies i like but yours looks better.

Sheralie said...

My mom gave me a bunch of baking stuff like that and I have never used it for my bread . . . dough conditioner etc. Maybe I should give it a try. Maybe I should try making bread again. Thanks.


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