whole grain bread

100% Whole Wheat Bread

100% Whole Wheat Bread

A lot of us want to eat more whole grains, but are unhappy when we try to make 100% whole wheat bread at home. There is a secret to baking whole wheat bread that is both tender, and slices easily.

Whole wheat flour, high in gluten, also is high in fibers, which make it harder to get the gluten to that stretchy state. If you knead whole wheat bread dough for 5- 10 minutes, like white bread dough, you’ll have a dough that is far from elastic.

The secret? Knead it longer. I knead my whole wheat bread dough about 20 minutes. That is easy if you have it in a stand mixer. Just set it on low and let the dough hook do the work. Not so easy if you are kneading by hand. When kneading for 20 minutes by hand, more and more flour gets added to the dough, to keep it from sticking. The extra flour results in a heavy dough, and a loaf of  bread that is best used as a door stop.  If you have to knead by hand- knead on a wet surface. The dough won’t stick to your hands or the board and you can knead it long enough to get a properly worked dough. How do you know your dough has been worked long enough? Hold the dough up to light and pull it. It should stretch thin enough so that you can see the light through it, without tearing. Here is one of several recipes I have for 100% whole wheat bread. I love it and I think you will, too.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

2 packets active dry yeast
2 2/3 c. warm water
½ c. oil
½ c. honey, molasses or maple syrup
6 ½ -7 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. non fat dry milk
2½ t. salt

Combine first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir in 3 cups of the flour, the dry milk and the salt. Beat with electric mixer for 3 minutes. Stir in enough flour for mixture to form a thick batter and continue mixing on low in mixer for 15-20 minutes. Dough takes time to become elastic. Add extra flour slowly until dough comes away from the sides of the work bowl, but not too soon. Note: if you must do this by hand add flour until dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and knead with wet hands on wet work surface for 15-20 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly greased bowl and cover, allowing to rise until puffy, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place in a lightly greased 9×5 – inch pan. Brush top with oil and place a piece of plastic wrap over the top. Allow to rise until doubled. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Tent with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over browning of the top. Test for doneness by removing bread from pan and thumping on the bottom. Bread should sound hollow. Makes 2.

Spelt Bread

Spelt Bread

Spelt Bread

If you haven’t baked with spelt flour before you might want to try it out. Its a whole grain but you end up with a product that is softer than whole wheat and requires less kneading. You can also replace white flour in pretty much any recipe with a similar texture to white flour- but with the nutrition of wholegrain. I really love working with spelt flour. I hope you will, too. Spelt flour is available in some grocery stores, specialty stores and health food stores.

Spelt Bread

 3 ¼ c. whole spelt flour

1 pkt. Active dry yeast

1 c. water

1/3 c. honey

¼ c. oil

1 t. salt

1 egg

Place 2 c. flour, yeast and salt in a medium bowl. Heat together water, honey and oil until warm (120-130 degrees) Add water mixture to spelt mixture and beat on low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds, or until moistened. Add egg and beat on high 3 minutes. Stir in enough spelt to make a soft dough. Cover bowl with towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and use a rubber scraper to transfer dough into prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, another hour. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Cover top with foil during last 10 minutes of baking. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf. I like this bread so much I often double the recipe so I have a loaf to freeze for later or give as a gift.

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