Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Best Whole Wheat Bread


2 3/4 cups warm water
2 Tbsp dry active yeast
1/3 cup oil, olive is fine
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 Tbsp molasses (you can't taste it so don't worry about that!)
1 Tbsp salt, sea salt is good
7 1/2 cups (max) 100% whole grain wheat flour, divided

Place the first six ingredients in a bowl and mix (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer) until yeast begins to disolve. Add 2 Cups 100% whole grain wheat flour. Mix, then add 4 cups of 100% whole grain wheat flour one cup at a time. Mix until the consistency is somewhat even.

Then continue to slowly add flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough quits sticking to the sides of the bowl. It should be tacky to the touch. The trick is to have enough consistency to stand up with the least amount of flour so the bread will be fluffy. In any case do not exceed 7 1/2 cups of wheat flour. You can trade one cup of wheat flour for one cup of all purpose white if you wish, but I don't.

*Don't over mix or the bread will be tough! In other words, don't knead it!

When your dough is finished, cover the bowl and let it rise for about 30-45 minutes. The dough will be larger but it doesn't need to double when using a heavy mixer. Grease two bread pans with nonstick spray. You can also flour the pans to reduce sticking.  Mix again just enough to knock it down at least close to the original size if using a Kitchen Aid mixer, or just punch it down.  Drop the dough on a floured surface so you can work the dough and shape it. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll it in the flour and shape it in your hands to make a nice ball getting enough flour on it so it isn't sticky, but don't overdo it. Divide the ball in half and do it again. Shape the loaves by turning the dough under it's self over and over. When the dough is shaped right the sides and ends will be sealed and all you will see is a nice oblong shaped loaf with smooth sides and top.

Alternatly you can form logs and place on a greased cookie sheet for a "french bread" style loaf, just be sure to score the top of the bread.

Drop the loaves in your bread pans and let them rise until almost doubled.  Bake for ~35 minutes. When done turn the bread out of the pan to a rack to cool. You can eat it right away.  Don't wrap it until completely cooled. (Condensation will make it soggy) Put in tinfoil or a big ziplock bag to store on the counter. Note that if you put it in the refrigerator it will turn into a brick.

This bread is not heavy like most 100% whole wheat breads. If it is, you used too much flour and your dough was too stiff. If it flattens out and won't stand up you need more flour. The total amount of flour is usually about 7 cups.

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