I want a bread that is substantial enough to maintain its integrity when peanut butter is spread upon it and won't be a soggy mess if I make it at 5:30 am and eat it at lunch time. I want it to be 100% whole wheat, but I don't want it to be dense and dry like so many whole wheat breads. Lastly, I want to make it myself because I like to know what's going into my food, it's cheaper than buying bread and tastes better, and I just like baking bread.
So after trying a few different recipes, most of which were very good, I've settled on the one on the back of the King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour bag. It's relatively easy to make, stays nice and fresh all week long, freezes well, and meets all of my other requirements listed above. For the past 5 or so months I've been making 2 loaves of this bread a week and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Oh, and it makes the house smell absolutely incredible while it bakes.
And of course, I just could not resist doing this:
I always double this recipe to make sure I won't run out of bread midweek and have to bake more. Since it freezes so well, I don't have to worry about one loaf going bad. Start by mixing flour, yeast, salt, and non-fat dry milk (which apparently adds vitamins and nutrients, imparts flavor, tenderizes the bread, helps color the crust, AND increases the keeping quality of the bread - wow).
Add honey, vegetable oil (I use canola), and water. Stir until all the flour is hydrated. If you don't feel like stirring, you can have a helper do it for you.
Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth, slightly tacky ball of dough. Or, if you're lazy like me, knead with the dough hook of your mixer for about 5 minutes. You might need to add additional flour at this point if the dough is sticking to the sides/bottom of the bowl. Add just enough so that the flour clears the sides and bottom.
Place the dough into a container that has been lightly sprayed with oil.
Allow the dough to double, which takes about 1 hour.
Dump the dough out onto a cutting board and knead it lightly to degas it. Form the dough into a ball and divide it into two equal pieces.
Spray two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans lightly with spray oil. Take one of the dough balls and flatten it out into a rectangle.
Form the dough into a loaf by rolling it up, pushing down on the seam with the side of your hand as you go. Fold the ends under the roll, and pinch all the seams closed. The roll in this picture is actually kind of lopsided, it should look much more even.
Place the roll of dough into the pan and lightly press down (it will spring back a bit). Cover the dough with plastic wrap. I've actually been placing the pans in a large plastic bag lately instead of covering them with plastic wrap, and the results have been better for me. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Allow the dough to rise for approximately one hour, or until the dough crests about 1 inch above the top of the pan. Slash the loaves - I like to them with a long straight slash right down the middle. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, turn them, and bake another 20 minutes. When the loaves are done, remove them from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a rack. If you're not going to use them right away, wrap them well in plastic wrap and freeze them immediately. When you want to use a loaf, just take it out of the freezer a few hours before you want it.
100% Whole Wheat Bread (adapted from King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour bag)
About 3 hours - makes 2 loaves
About 3 hours - makes 2 loaves
- 8 cups of King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 cup of non-fat dry milk
- 5 teaspoons of instant yeast
- 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 2/3 cups of room temperature water
- Mix the flour, dry milk, instant yeast, and salt in the work bowl of a standing mixer (or a regular mixing bowl)
- Add the oil, honey, and water and stir until all the flour is hydrated
- Knead with the dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes (or knead by hand for 10 minutes) until a smooth, slightly tacky ball forms. The dough should clear the sides and bottom of the bowl, add flour to achieve this if necessary.
- Place the dough in a bowl sprayed lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until doubled, approximately 1 hour
- Dump the dough onto a counter and gently knead a few times to degas
- Work the dough into a ball and divide it into 2 equal pieces
- Spray two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with spray oil
- Form each dough ball into a loaf and place into pans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cover pans with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it crests 1 inch above the top of the pan, approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour
- Slash the loaves down the middle
- Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes, turn the loaves, and bake another 20 minutes
- Remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack