Thursday, October 24, 2013

Virtually Foolproof Whole Grain Bread

This summer, I took a class on how to make whole grain bread. The recipe below is the one shared with the class as I have adapted it for my life and our preferences. It really isn't hard to make a good bread with a good recipe, and we love this one! Hope you enjoy it too.

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup honey
2 1/2 cups warm water
4 heaping teaspoons yeast (or two packets of yeast)
4 cups whole wheat flour*

Mix these ingredients together until wet (I use my KitchenAid mixer to mix it). Cover and let sit for 30 minutes--it will double and look a little bubbly. After 30 minutes, add:

2 cups whole wheat flour (as above)
1 cup soft white-wheat flour
1 TBSP salt
1/2 cup gluten

Mix ingredients together (again, I use my KitchenAid mixer) until combined. If dough is sticky, add more flour one TBSP at a time until it is not sticky. Add water in small doses if dough appears dry. Once combined there are two options for kneading:
1) Knead by hand for 10-15 minutes, then let it rest briefly, and knead for another 10 minutes. OR
2) Leave dough in KitchenAid mixing bowl, use the dough hook and turn the mixer on low. Let it run for 7-10 minutes, give it a break, and then another 7-10 minutes. I do this because I have found the bread turns out better for me this way! I have to keep my mixer on the lowest setting or it will bump and jerk and try to migrate off the countertop! You want the dough to be soft and pliable, yet able to 'push back' on your hands a little as you knead it. If you pull it apart, you should see little strands--those are strands of gluten, and you want those--they make the dough softer and 'springy-er'.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease two loaf pans (when done right, this recipe should make two generous loaves of bread, so you might be able to use three pans)

Once dough is kneaded, separate into two equal portions. Using your hands, stretch one half of the dough out into a rectangle and then roll it up, pinching the seam closed. Place in prepared loaf pan and punch it down until it fills out the pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Cover both pans with a cloth and let rise in a warm spot until doubled (30-60 minutes).

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Be sure to check the bread--if it gets too brown you may cover the top with aluminum foil until the baking time is complete.

**I use a freshly ground whole wheat flour blend that I buy from here in Wake Forest. It is two parts Prairie Gold Wheat, one part Oat Groats, and one part Soft White Wheat (these are all wheat berries that The Grain Mill grinds for me). I use one cup of just soft white wheat for the second step of the bread process. This recipe came from The Grain Mill as well, so please, if you are local, go check them out!

Here are some photos of the bread making process that I took a couple of months ago! There are lots of variations on this bread recipe--swap out half white/half wheat for a cinnamon roll/pretzel dough, add in whole oats, sunflower seeds, flax, etc. Play with it! I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to ask any questions. I am NOT an expert, just someone who is having fun learning the art of breadmaking.
the first stage

If you want to knead by hand, enlist some helpers!!

before doubled

after doubling--I should have left it to rise longer

Finished product!

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