The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.
I set out on a mission to find a good, spongy, soft, 100% whole wheat bread. We only use white whole wheat flour, but a lot of the bread recipes we try end up very tough or dense. This was creating a bit of a problem, because bread from the store is increasingly disgusting (i.e. high fructose corn syrup flavored foam bricks with ingredients lists that are inexplicably longer than my arm), but I couldn’t find a good substitute. So I began trying various recipes until I finally found one that was everything I ever wanted, and more.
The reason this recipe is “the one” is because it has a lot of sugar in it. That’s both the good and the bad, but it is a necessary evil because it’s what makes the bread light and fluffy. That sugar is yeast food, and it makes the dough rise like crazy. In fact, with a little extra rising time, you can actually split the loaf in half and make two loaves for the price of one. Lately I have been experimenting with cutting out a tablespoon of brown sugar. So far I haven’t noticed a difference.
I make the bread on the dough cycle of our bread machine, but you could conceivably do it by hand. I’ve just found from experience that I don’t mix it it enough when I do it by hand. Besides, why even have a bread machine if you’re not going to use it? (And believe me, we get a lot of use out of ours)
After the bread has been mixing for awhile in the bread maker, I open it up and scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is mixing well, and also add a tiny bit of water if it seems necessarily. I like wet dough, because it tends to rise better. Basically, every bread recipe I’ve ever tried for whole wheat flour has required me to add water to it. I don’t know if people just consistently underestimate the amount of water they need, if the recipes are really for bread flour and whole wheat needs more water, or if there’s just something about my baking environment that requires more water. But anyway, feel free to play with the recipe if it’s not coming out quite right.
For artisan breads I rely on Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (perhaps there’ll be a post on that someday), but this recipe cannot be beat for a sandwich loaf. I don’t think it’s out of line to say this is the best whole wheat bread I have ever made. We don’t buy bread anymore, we only make it. In fact, I have even used this recipe to make some very excellent hamburger and even brat buns!
The original recipe was from the Internet, but I can’t find it anymore.
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- sprinkle of ginger (I sprinkle *very* liberally with the ginger, because I like ginger)
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 3 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- Mix in the dough cycle of the bread machine (or by hand if you want, but I get better results in the bread machine)
- Deflate the dough and put it in a greased loaf pan, or shape into buns
- Cover with a towel and let rise. If you’re in a hurry, let it rise on the oven while it preheats.
- Bake at 365 for 30 minutes