Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Light & Soft 100% Whole Wheat Bread

If your primary experience is with store-bought whole wheat bread, you probably think the words light, soft and whole wheat in the same sentence is an oxymoron. I guarantee you will not think that after trying this recipe. I have been making whole wheat bread since I was a kid and have finally discovered a recipe that is light enough for my taste without having to add any white flour.

Two tricks to light whole wheat bread. First. You must use white wheat. It is so much lighter and moister than red wheat, and it's best if you grind it the day you bake it- whole wheat flour isn't quite as light after a few days of sitting out (you can also store it in your freezer). Second. If you don't want picky eaters to tell the difference between white and wheat bread you must use dough enhancer. I lived for years without it and finally (thanks to tips from King Arthur Flour and my mother-in-law who took a class from Chef Brad) I found the key to soft delicious 100% whole wheat bread. Here is my adapted recipe:

2 1/4 teaspoon SAF yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1-2 Tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons oil or butter, softened
1 egg (if you're using dough enhancer you don't need the egg)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dough enhancer (if you don't have this- buy it, if you really don't have it, try adding mashed potatoes- if you have picky eaters, dough enhancer is totally worth it- you can get it at Emergency Essentials for around $6)
3+ cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar/honey until foamy (I like the water about the temperature you'd bathe a child in- not too hot not too cold). Add oil, egg and salt, mix. Add gluten & enhancer and one cup of flour. Continue adding flour one cup at a time until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is soft but not sticky.
Knead 10 minutes. Let rise 1 hour or until double in size. Form into loaf and let rise until double in size. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
Makes 1 loaf.
*To make two loaves, increase water to 2 1/4 cups, 1 tablespoon of yeast and 2 teaspoons of salt.
Some breadmaking tips:
1) I prefer a Bosch mixer- they are the best for kneading dough, and I use a Whisper Mill (Wonder Mill) grinder
2) Don't forget the salt- your bread will be seriously yuck without it- if you double the recipe- you don't need to double the yeast but you DO need to double the salt
3) Kneading for 10 minutes really does make a difference in how light your bread will be
4) It is not necessary to do a double rise- if you're short on time you can just form it in a loaf and let it rise until it's doubled, it will take about 2 hours- I prefer a double rise because it makes it a bit lighter, but it will still taste good if it only rises once as long as you have kneaded the dough long enough (you really notice a difference between single and double rise bread the second and third day- if you gobble it up fresh out of the oven don't bother with a double rise but if you plan on eating it the next day it might be worth the extra time)
5) Have fun- try adding herbs, nuts, seeds (I call them bugs) other grains (oats, quinoa, barley) to spice it up a bit
6) Try not to cut the bread until it has cooled (unless you have an electric knife). I break this rule all the time- I love it warm, but it will squish the dough and can make the rest of the loaf doughy, so if you have the self-control please wait
7) You can use this recipe for ANYTHING. Pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, fry bread, breadsticks, calzones, it is a universal recipe that can be adapted for any rising product, just add more sugar or spices depending on your preference
8) Oh- and I forget the oil all the time, you don't even notice it if you eat it fresh, but after a day or two it will be less moist if you didn't include oil. Print Friendly and PDF
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