This recipe is from my friend Chef Tess. If you haven't seen her blog yet, I encourage you to go there and browse a bit. You will find all kinds of recipes that are easy to follow and give you delicious results! You can read Stephanie's original post for this bread recipe here. This is my interpretation of Stephanie's "Bare Bones Wheat Bread" recipe.
Here's the list of ingredients:
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup water - cool to the touch (This is to proof the yeast. I used lukewarm water.)
- 6 cups whole wheat flour (I grind my own.)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2 TBS honey
- 1/4 cup oil (I used olive oil.)
- 3 - 5 TBS dough enhancer (Stephanie doesn't use this in her original recipe. I make my own. You can read about how to make dough enhancer here.)
Let's start with proofing the yeast. I use instant yeast and everyone I know tells me that instant yeast doesn't require proofing. For this recipe, I proof it anyway. Place the 2 tsps of yeast in a bowl and add the 1/2 cup of cool water. Let it sit for a few minutes. Here is what it looks likes after sitting for a few minutes.
While the yeast is proofing, add 6 cups of whole wheat flour to a large bowl. Then add the salt and dough enhancer (if you are going to use it.)
Mix it well and set aside. Add the honey and oil to the 2 1/4 cups lukewarm water. Stir to dissolve the honey, then add the yeast proof mixture. Stir again.
In the bowl of dry ingredients, make a well in the center of the bowl to accept the liquid ingredients. Pour the liquid ingredients into the well.
Stir from the center to make a smooth batter then gradually incorporate the rest of the flour.
Now, this is the part most people won't believe. To get a good rise, you must knead the dough by hand 600 strokes. If you want to, you can use an electric mixer with a dough blade. It should take about 6 minutes. If you don't have an electric mixer, the 600 strokes is critical to develop the gluten in whole wheat. When I do it by hand, it takes about 20 minutes. I let the dough rest for a few minutes every 150 strokes. This dough is a bit sticky. Although the stickiness will decrease as you continue to knead the dough, it will remain a bit sticky. Resist the temptation to add more flour. It would be better to mist your hands and the counter top with a little water. Even better yet, get used to the stickiness until you are finished kneading.
When you have finished, put the dough in an ungreased bowl to let it rise. I rinsed and reused the original mixing bowl. Lightly grease the top of the dough. I used Pam spray. Then cover it with plastic wrap. Here is a picture of mine.
Let the dough sit in a warm spot (80 degrees) for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Sometimes I put mine in the oven after I turn it on warm for a few minutes. On this day, I was canning apple juice and the kitchen was quite warm so I let it sit on the counter. It only took 90 minutes to rise. Here is what it looked like after the 90 minutes was up.
Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface. I used another piece of freezer paper. Gently deflate the dough. Try not to break the smooth surface. Flatten it out a bit and then cut it in half. Form each half into a ball (again, try not to break the smooth surface.) Roll each ball flat. You want to form it into somewhat of a rectangle. A rolling pin works great for this. I used one for this batch. Here is what it looks like after flattening it.
Take each flat piece and fold it into thirds - like you are folding a letter. This is important to shape the loaf well.
Now, roll the dough back and forth to form a log. Tuck the ends under the bottom and pinch them in. Here is what mine looks like.
Grease the pans well and gently place the dough into the pan for the second rise. To get a good shape to the final loaf of bread, you should use an 8 x 4 loaf pan. I sprayed mine with another light coat of Pam and covered them with plastic bread bags like those used to store bread.
The second rise should take between 35 - 45 minutes. I let mine rise 45 minutes. When they are ready, use a sharp knife to lightly slit the top of the loaf. The vent helps to give the loaf a good shape and allows it to rise correctly in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Then, turn the oven temperature down to 325. You can open the oven door a crack to quickly cool it down to 325. Bake an additional 30 - 35 minutes.
When done, remove from the oven and remove from the pan. Cool completely before cutting. With this beginner's recipe for bread, you can bake a perfect loaf every time!