The other day, my friend Shelly posted some pictures on Facebook of a loaf of whole wheat bread that she’d baked — it looked so tantalizingly delicious that I immediately went to the store to purchase the ingredients I’d need to make it. (By the way, Shelly has a great cooking and crafting blog — check it out here!). She used King Arthur Flour’s Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe. As I’ve mentioned, baking yeast breads unnerves me, but thanks to Shelly’s patient answering of my questions, this attempt was a success! The resulting bread was moist and had a slightly nutty flavor with just the right touch of sweetness. Although we are a wheat bread household, I often feel that store-bought wheat bread tastes a bit sandpapery and bitter. I’m not going to lie and say that this wheat bread trumps white bread in terms of taste (yes, I know some people genuinely prefer the taste of wheat bread, but I’m not one of those people!), but it is pretty darn delicious. I think I may bake up additional loaves and freeze them for sandwich- and toast-making purposes. I love the idea of the kids eating homemade bread.
Anyway, this really is pretty easy to do. Although the dough has to rise twice, the hands-on time is only 20 minutes, and I feel that the recipe is pretty foolproof as far as yeast recipes go. So, thank you, Shelly, for posting the pictures and the recipe, and for guiding me through the process! 🙂
Makes 9×5 loaf
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate)*
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup (I used honey)
- 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast or 1 packet active dry yeast (I used a packet of dry yeast)**
- 1/4 cupnonfat dried milk
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup orange juice***
*I used 1 1/4 cups of water.
**If using dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet of dry yeast to dissolve the yeast, and subtract that amount of water from the water called for in the recipe. For example, my packet of dry yeast said to dissolve in 1/4 cup of warm water, so I reduced the rest of the liquid used in the recipe to 1 cup.
***The King Arthur Flour recipe said that replace 1/4 cup of the water called for in the recipe with orange juice would disguise the slight bitterness of whole wheat bread. I was skeptical, but boy, did it work wonders! The bread wasn’t bitter, nor did the OJ impart an unwanted orange flavor. Score! So, I ended up using 3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of orange juice for the “main” recipe (and used an additional 1/4 cup of water to dissolve the yeast, resulting in 1 and 1/4 cups of total liquid uised). I combined the 1/4 cup of OJ and 3/4 cup of water, then microwaved until lukewarm.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients (if using dry yeast, pour the yeast and water mixture into the bowl after the required dissolving time has passed; usually 10 minutes).
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. At this point, the dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary. (Let me just tell you that this is quite the arm workout! And my arms are pretty strong, too. Whew!)
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. I used Shelly’s handy tip of warming the oven for a few minutes on its lowest temperature setting, turning the oven off, then letting the dough rise in there. I let it sit for two hours, and it didn’t nearly double in size, so don’t panic if the dough doesn’t increase in bulk substantially.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or until the center has crowned about one inch above the rim of the pan. My bread pan is pretty deep, and the dough didn’t even rise to the very top of the rim, but the bread still turned out well. So, if yours doesn’t go one inch above the rim, don’t despair.
Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The recipe notes that the finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center. I don’t have an instant-read thermometer (unbelievable, I know!); I just took the bread out at 40 minutes, and it was great. Next time I might take it out somewhere between 35 and 38, just to see if it’s even moister.
Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. (Oh, please do this — it gives the crust a nice sheen, too!)
Tomorrow morning, I’m going to cut a thick slice of this for myself, toast it and slather it with Nutella for a morning treat. Mmmmm!