Normally Kyle makes our bread, but tonight he had a meeting and I grocery shopped yesterday; therefore, I decided to take my maiden voyage on bread making (it's easier than throwing two little ones into the car and getting in and out of the car and the store, right?).
Kyle has played with his recipe to make it what he wants, so it isn't written in any one place. This left me to find my own recipe. I wanted to make a 100% whole wheat loaf so I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour: Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread: King Arthur Flour combined with some methods from my Williams and Sonoma Bread book's "Whole Wheat Bread" recipe, which is only about 50% whole wheat and I also slightly modified the ingredients.
Here is how I did it:
1 to 1 1/4 c lukewarm water (amount depends on the temperature and humidity of your home - moister, less water; drier, more water. I went for a touch more than a cup.)
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c honey ( or you can use maple syrup or light molasses)
3 to 3 1/2 c 100% whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1/4 c dried buttermilk (or dried milk; but if you have it, my theory is that all baked goods taste better with buttermilk.)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1) Measure warm water from tap into small mixing bowl and sprinkle in yeast and a small pinch of brown sugar. Mix until the yeast is dissolved and let sit for about 10 minutes while you complete steps two and three.
2) In the large stand mixer bowl combine the vegetable oil, honey, buttermilk and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix these ingredients together.
3) Then add in about a cup of the flour, stir that in as well.
4) Now stir in the yeast mixture.
5) Add flour to the mixture until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl (it'll be obvious when this starts to happen). At this point remove the paddle attachment and replace it with the dough hook. Continue to add flour slowly, as slow as a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is smooth but sticky to the touch.
(I only used 3ish cups of flour to get to this point even though the original recipe called for 3 1/2 c; so keep your eye on the texture, not only the amount of flour that the recipe recommends. I say this because I am usually a dumper, just pour in what the recipe says and it should taste good.)
6) Now remove your dow from the mixing bowl, form it into a loose "ball" and place it in a large greased bowl.
7) For ultimate "rising climate", if you will, Kyle and I use the following technique: fill another large glass bowl or baking pan with hot water from the tap. (Kyle has melted at least two plastic bowls, when he accidentally preheated the oven before removing the water bowl. I highly recommend a glass bowl or container for this reason.) Place the water filled bowl on the bottom rack of the oven and your bowl with the dough, covered with a towel, on the top rack. Close the oven to create a warm and moist environment. Let the dough raise for 1 to 2 hours. When it is obviously puffy, not necessarily doubled in size as some recipes recommend, it's done with this portion of the rising. (I let mine go for one and a half hours, it may have been done at one hour though- who knows I was out playing in the sun with the girls.)
8) On an oiled surface, punch the air out of the dough (one punch ought to do it, no need to go crazy) and then form it into a loaf shape. Place the dough into a greased 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 bread pan. Cover loosely (I didn't) with greased plastic wrap. Now return the bread to the oven to rise for another one to two more hours. The dough will be done rising when the center of the loaf has crowned one inch above the pan. Take the dough and water out of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. [Mine raised for another hour (while I played some more) and then I set it on the back burner, the one that gets the warmest when the oven is on, while the oven preheats (while I made dinner).]
|The dough ready for it's second round of raising.|
|Notice that it starts below the lip of the pan.|
|After rising, the dough has now crowned roughly one inch, in the center, above the pan lip.|
9) Once the oven is preheated, remove the plastic wrap and bake the bread for 35-40 minutes. At about 20 minutes, add a loose foil tent to avoid the crust getting too crunchy. (I cooked mine for 37 minutes since I don't have an automatic thermometer to tell me if the center is 190 degrees fahrenheit.)
10) Remove the bread from the oven and then dump it out of the pan onto a cooling rack to cool. (If your bread doesn't dump with a couple of good shakes, loosen it with a butter knife and try again - this is what I had to do.) For a soft flavorful crust, rub a stick of butter over the crust. Yum.
And now you have bread!
As always, when written out the process looks daunting. But even on my first run at it, the hands on portion of making the bread only took about thirty minutes. So if you are going to be around the house while the bread is rising anyway, it really doesn't put you out to make bread. Also, I would argue that it was easier to make bread than run to the store with two kids aged 3 and 1; it took longer, but it was easier, more enjoyable and very tasty.
I hope you enjoy making some bread of your own! We sure did.
UPDATE: I'm finding that this bread is delicious but like the other predominately whole wheat recipes we've made, it's a bit crumbly. I'll keep you updated on my bread making endeavors as I search for a solution... it may be using bread or all purpose flour with the whole wheat, we'll see.