Saturday, June 11, 2011
Whole Foods Recipe: Wheat Bread
Wheat bread should be simple. There should be a minimum of ingredients. It should be healthy and hearty but still mouthwateringly delicious. My bread was never any of these things.
I found a wonderful local bakery that makes a delicious, affordable loaf that meets all of the above criteria and I decided that maybe that was as good as it was going to get for me. I happily made the trek over there once every two weeks for months (they give free samples!).
But then one day I just didn't feel like driving to get bread. I wanted to conquer it in my own kitchen, dang it!
I decided to start with my go-to french bread recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I should have known to start there months ago. None of her recipes have ever let me down and her blog is the first place I go when I want to add something new to our weekly menu. She's no-fail for me.
And what do you know, it turned out perfectly. I've made it at least once a week for a couple months now and have had consistently excellent results. On Sunday we were supposed to have burgers for dinner and I realized I had forgotten to buy buns. Not a problem! I whipped up a batch of this bread dough, used half for buns and made the other half into a regular loaf. It was perfect.
If you have a mixer with a dough hook then check out Mel's original post for kneading instructions. My instructions are for those of us stuck in the dark ages with a spoon and a bowl.
Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
2 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons oil (coconut!! Or, you know, whatever)
5 1/2-6 cups white wheat flour, plus some for dusting (I use home ground but King Arthur's is good)
3-4 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (you can find this in most grocery stores these days)
Pour warm water into a large bowl and stir in the honey. Sprinkle in the yeast then let it sit for a few minutes until foamy. Stir in oil, salt and half the flour until well combined. Add the rest of the flour and the vital wheat gluten, stir for a bit then dump it all out on your kneading surface and get to work. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes until it all comes together and looks smooth. Turn your bowl upside down over the dough ball and set your timer for 10 minutes.
When 10 minutes is up, remove your bowl and knead the dough for a few turns. Replace the bowl. Set your timer for 10 minutes. Repeat every 10 minutes for about an hour.
Divide dough in two equal pieces and roll into 9x13 rectangles. Starting at a long edge, roll dough into a loaf then set both loaves seam side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Take a sharp knife and cut 3 angled gashes on top of each. Cover lightly and let rise another 30-45 minutes (depending on a lot of factors, it might need longer since wheat doesn't rise quite as readily. Use your judgment here).
Brush each loaf with egg wash (one egg beaten with a little water) then bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes (original recipe says 30 but mine is always done at least 5 minutes before then. This batch only baked for like 22 minutes so keep an eye on it).