Basic Whole-Wheat Bread

Now that I have taken down Goliath with my first run at White Bread and worked my way through The Crusty Cob, Sweet Batch Bread, and Sweat Potato Rolls I figured it was time to take on the dreaded Whole-Wheat bread. As with most things, it wasn’t as scary as I had always imagined. This bread just takes a little more kneading and a spirit of adventure.

I haven’t always liked whole-wheat bread. To be completely honest, I actually never liked it growing up. Mom would buy whole-wheat bread from the natural food co-op and all I would really want would be the good old white bread that stuck to the roof of my mouth as I bit into a ham and Miracle Whip sandwich but she always wanted us to eat better than that. O… I got my white bread from time to time so don’t feel to sorry for me. But now that I’m older I’m a little more thankful for the whole-wheat.

This bread is great to eat on its own or as toast but it does not work well for sandwiches. Not sure yet what makes a good bread for sandwiches but I’m working on it. Until then, enjoy this fine whole-wheat bread and I will get back to work on a sandwich bread.

Here’s what yo’ll need:

  • 2/3 cups white bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting and kneading
  • 2 1/2 scant cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 oz/30g yeast (5 tsp dry active yeast…activated in some warm water)
  • 1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup = 4 tbsp = 2 oz), softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups water (warm…I would use this to activate the yeast)

The more I learn about bread the more I discover the importance of yeast. First, I would recommend (if you are using dry active yeast) taking your 1 1/2 cups of warm water and adding your yeast to it. Only do this if you are using dry yeast. Set aside for 10-15 minutes and allow the yeast to activate.

While the yeast is activating, put the flours and salt in your mixing bowl and mix for a few minutes to get the salt mixed in well. (If your wondering, I still only use all purpose flour as I haven’t bought any bread flour yet). When yeast is ready add it along with the butter and mix until it is all incorporated together. A good judge of this is to watch and see if all the flour from the sides of the mixing bowl has been taken up by the dough.

Dump the dough out onto the lightly floured counter and knead for 5-7 minutes. Don’t worry if the dough is wetter than some of the doughs you’ve made for other breads. Whole-wheat flour takes more water than white flour and thus needs more water as the dough does tend to tighten up as it rests. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a towel and let rest for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 425° and place dough either on a lined baking sheet or in a loaf pan. I have also started placing the dough on a pizza stone in the over instead of a baking sheet and it works great. Take a knife and cut a slash down the middle of the dough. Dust with flour and bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool or eat fresh and hot… your choice.

Found in:
Hollywood, Paul. 100 Great Breads. Edited by Victoria Alers-Hankey and Barbara Dixon. New York: Cassell Illustrated, 2004.
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About DH

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