Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread (Guest Post)

MY FIRST GUEST POST!!  I'm so excited!

My friend, Jenn, just started a food blog in preparation for our baking group.  A few weeks ago I saw a whole wheat bread tutorial and recipe on her blog.  I was also a little jealous when, in one her blog posts, she mentioned she hadn't bought bread from the store in THREE AND A HALF YEARS!!! I had never made my own whole wheat sandwich bread before or any sandwich bread for that matter.  In fact, I kind of had a bit of a bias toward homemade wheat bread.  One of our neighbors growing up (Tonita Crookston) used to bring my parents wheat bread that was delicious and later spurred my dad's bread making obsession.  The obsession didn't last very long and if I remember correctly he never thought his bread was as good as what she would deliver.  So I just figured you had to be one of those people that the heavens shined upon, bestowing the gift of wheat bread making.  I didn't think it was possible for me to be a wheat-bread-maker.  
I had also heard of people having great results with grinding their own wheat and making bread, but I don't have a wheat grinder and it sounded like a ton of work.  After reading Jenn's post, she said I could use wheat flour and she made it look way easier than I was picturing.  I have made the bread twice now.  Once without the flax (I didn't have any) and once with it.  I am officially converted.  I wanted to share this recipe with everyone in case there are others like me that Jenn can reform. ;)  
I did change a couple things according to what I had on hand and the bread was still wonderful!  I halved the recipe both times; I only have 2 loaf pans.  Isn't that just plain ridiculous???  I also don't keep powdered milk around so I substituted regular milk.  (If the recipe calls for 1 cup powdered milk, reduce the water content by 2 cups and add 2 cups of milk.)    Oh and here are my pictures as proof I can actually make whole wheat sandwich bread!!!  (I don't think you realize how excited I was about that.)  Proof that sometimes we don't even know ourselves. :)
100 times better than what we buy at the store and WAY better for us!  
I will now shut-up so you guys can read what you came here for. 
Here's Jenn:

There is some irony in being asked to guest post at Girl+Food, as I'm not much of a cook, nor am I very adventurous in the eating department. But one thing I can do well is bake bread. And that's why I'm here. I think bread baking is often intimidating for takes some practice to figure out the perfect amount of time to knead the dough, how much to let it rise, and how to shape a pretty loaf. Somewhere I have a picture of one of my first attempts at baking me, it was NOT pretty! Don't feel bad if your first (or even second or third) attempt does not work out as well as you had hoped. Just try again. I get compliments on my bread all. the. time. And you can too. So without further ado, here is the recipe for the most delicious whole wheat bread you'll ever eat! (my own two cents on the recipe are in red).

 Whole Wheat Bread 
1/2 cup warm water
2 TB yeast (use active dry for this recipe)
12 cups whole wheat flour (I don't measure any of the flour anymore, other than the 7 cups at the beginning. I just add flour until the consistency is right...slightly might find that you need a little more or a little less than the 12 cups)
5 cups hot water
1 cup powdered milk (optional, but I always use it)
2/3 cup cooking oil
2/3 cup honey
2 TB salt
2 eggs (optional, but I always add it as well)
I also throw in a cup of ground flax to increase the fiber content. You'll use a little less flour if you add the flax. Adding flax ups the nutritional content of your bread, but won't affect the taste at all. If you use golden flax, you can barely even see it in your baked bread. I've also found that it helps keep my bread more moist.

Printable version HERE

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and set aside. I grind my own wheat, so this is step #1 for me. This recipe will work just fine with whole wheat flour purchased from the grocery store. I grind 10 cups of wheat berries, which gives me enough flour for the recipe, as well as a little extra to make whole wheat pancakes for breakfast the next day!
Combine and beat 7 cups of flour, powedered milk and 5 cups hot water for ten minutes (this is a very important step to develop gluten).
 While the dough is mixing, I get my flax ready. Adding flax is optional. I used to buy it ground because that was the only way I could buy it locally. It's more expensive that way, but at least available. Earlier this year my father-in-law got his hands on a bunch of flax seeds, so he gave me a bucketful. I grind about 1/2-2/3 of a cup of seeds, which yields around a cup of ground flax. It just takes a few seconds in a coffee grinder to get the job done.
 After the 10 minute mixing period is up, I add the salt, eggs (I like to use powdered), honey, oil, yeast, and flax. Once all of those ingredients are mixed well, I start adding flour, 1 cup at a time.
 Once the dough starts to creep up over the top of my KitchenAid dough hook, I know it's time to start kneading by hand. Dump the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and then start kneading in additional flour until the dough gets to a slightly sticky consistency. I've found the easiest way to knead is to fold the dough over, press it down, and then turn it 1/4 of a turn. Repeat those steps until the kneading process is complete.
Now that your dough has been kneaded, it's time to let it rise. Depending on the temperature in the house, it typically takes my dough 1-1 1/2 hours to rise. I always spray my bowl with a bit of vegetable oil and you can cover your bowl with plastic wrap coated with oil to prevent sticking, or with a tea towel (much easier, if you ask me).
 Once the dough has doubled, punch it down (that part is fun, especially if your children have been particularly naughty that day and you need to release some frustration!) and knead for 3 minutes. I like to spray my countertop with a little bit of vegetable oil so that the dough doesn't stick.
 Put your freshly kneaded dough back in the bowl and leave to rise again. The second rising period is usually shorter for my bread....around 45 minutes.
 Punch down again and knead into a nice ball. Then, using a knife, cut the dough into four equal sections.
Again, I spray my countertop with vegetable spray to prevent the dough from sticking, and then let the loaves rest for 10 minutes.
 After ten minutes, it's time to form your loaves. Many people struggle to get a pretty loaf, and mine are usually far from perfect, but you'll get better with practice. I like to pinch all the edges to the center and then flip the loaf over and lightly pat the edges to help form it into the correct shape for my pan.
 One last rising period and then it's time to bake!
 Bake at 375° for 15 minutes, then turn heat down to 350° and bake for 20 minutes longer. After 35 minutes in the oven, all your hard work turns into this warm, delicious goodness!

I want to thank Jenn for guest posting!  I don't know about you guys but I can't wait for her to post her whole wheat pancake recipe on her blog!  (hint, hint)  :)
Oh and today is the last day to join the baking group, if you would like to bake with us, let me know.

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