This makes 3 loaves. I bake this bread a lot, and it’s very easy, if you have the right tools. Years ago I baked bread without the use of a heavy-duty mixer, and actually KNEADED BY HAND, if you can believe it! But the results weren’t as good as this. Your mixer must be the kind that has a dough-hook.
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons dry yeast
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
- 1 egg
- 8 to 10 cups whole wheat flour made from hard spring or winter wheat.
Sprinkle yeast into water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. If it doesn’t foam, the yeast might not be good; you might need to get more yeast and start over.
Mix yeast and then add oil, honey, salt and egg. Mix. Stir in 4 cups of flour. The recipe says beat 100 times with a wooden spoon until smooth. I just attach the dough hook and mix on low for a few minutes. Let stand for 15 to 45 minutes until bubbly and starting to rise.
A word or more about flour: we’re using 100% whole wheat flour, with no white flour cut in to lighten it up. I have lots of whole wheat stored, some from years back. I bought a wheat grinder attachment for my Bosch mixer a few years ago for about $100. This allows me to use whole wheat, the minute after it is ground, no loss of nutrients (I hope; the grinder does tend to generate some heat but not extreme), no chance for the oils from the wheat to go rancid. No preservatives! Some of my friends use old stone-grinders, and I’ve heard the K-tec Kitchen Mill is a great wheat grinder to buy.
I’ve been able to find both red and a new variety of “white” wheat that I love to use. It’s milder, but has the same nutritional value (I’ve been told) as the harder, darker red wheat. I’ve bought wheat from co-ops and health food stores, but it’s by far cheaper at the local Bishop’s Storehouse, which most Mormons are familiar with. But lately I’ve found in the grocery store, this new bagged variety of white wheat flour, made by King Arthur brand.
This stuff makes a delectable loaf of bread. That is what I used for this batch of 3 loaves that you see here. For the honey, why not use some local variety? I used Orange Blossom honey, that is the local stuff for us here in Florida. You could also use corn oil or another kind of oil. I love to use extra virgin, light olive oil in bread, but even the fruitier-tasting olive oils are good in whole wheat bread.
After the sponge has risen, add 4 more cups of flour and process in the mixer: with the dough-hook, run the mixer on low or the next highest setting until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. You may have to add up to a cup more of flour if kneading by hand. I’ve added extra gluten some times in the past, but it’s not necessary. You can buy gluten at the health food store or at the grocery store over by where the Bob’s baking mixes and other healthy-snob items are stashed. A couple of tablespoonfuls per loaf, will make it rise higher, but it’s not necessary with this recipe; it produces a nice lofty loaf anyway. You don’t want the dough to be too sticky but also not too tough and hard. (I remember the first time I ever made bread; it didn’t rise right, I threw it out into the yard and the dog buried it!) At this stage, the dough is processed enough if you pick out a chunk, smooth out the top of it with your two thumbs, and it should look like the surface is kind of blistering. Sort of like this:
Sorry, that’s not a good picture. Put the dough in a LARGE oiled bowl, inverting it so the oiled side is up. That’s what the directions say, but you can put it in a bowl sprayed with Pam and cover with a cloth or a lid. Let rise in a warm place for 1/2 hour or until double in bulk. If it’s a cold, rainy day, maybe it will take longer than a half hour to double in bulk.
Punch down and let it rise again for another hour, until double. Punch down again. At this point, divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Knead each portion and form into a loaf shape. The best way for me to describe how to do this to you, is that I will hold the blob of dough in both hands and sort of try to turn under both sides, while smoothing the top of the loaf with my thumbs. You do want to have a smooth top, but also not a lot of wrinkles or air pockets at the underside of the loaf. So you are basically tucking the sides under many times until the surface is smooth all the way around. Do this firmly to press out any air bubbles that might get trapped inside, because if not removed, they will make a big hole in the bread. Turn right side up, with the seam side on the bottom, and press firmly into an oiled or Pammed bread pan. Let rise until double, about 30 minutes. Now is a great time to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you live where it’s cold, you may want to preheat your oven at an earlier stage, to help create a warm environment for the dough to rise in the prior stages.
Also, if your kitchen tends to be drafty or cold, or if like in my case, CATS may decide to maraud in the kitchen if not occupied elsewhere, cover the rising loaves.
OK, they’ve risen, the oven is preheated, and now the loaves go in to bake for 25 minutes.
If you want to, you can cut stripes or a mark across the top of the loaves with a very sharp knife, before they go into the oven. Just try to slice open the “skin’ of the loaf, because if you puncture the loaf with the knife, it will fall flat, and then you’ll have to reshape it and let it rise again, and the results might not be so good. Also, set the loaves in the middle of the oven, carefully, because jarring them might cause them to deflate. If you goof up time-wise and let the loaves rise way longer than necessary and they’re oddly shaped, it might be better to punch down again, reshape, and let rise again.
After baking for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, remove from the oven, let cool for a bit in the pans, then pop the loaves out of the pans and let them cool on a rack.
This is the best plain bread ever. Thanks to D’On Reid for the excellent recipe.
One number 10 can (about a gallon-size container) of wheat makes about 6 loaves of bread.