Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Favorite Whole Wheat Bread

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This is my absolute favorite whole wheat bread. It rises the nicest, has the best flavor, cuts nice and lasts a long time. I don't make this very much because it requires dried buttermilk powder, which can be expensive. So when I make this, it's a treat. I got this recipe from The Bread Bible. I have a lot of nice recipes from that book. Really the best book for bread bakers. It does require a sponge, which is probably why it is so nice. Anyhoo. Here you go:

Old-fashioned 100% Whole-Wheat Bread

3 C warm water
1 C dried buttermilk
1 tbsp active dry yeast
.75C honey
3 C fine grind whole wheat flour (remember I do use a white whole wheat, which makes everything lighter, sweeter and moister)

.5 c oil
1.25 tbsp salt
5-5.5 C fine grind whole wheat flour

1. To prepare sponge, in a large bowl, whisk together the water, buttermilk, yeast, honey and the 3C of flour, beat until smooth. Scrape down sides with spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until foamy and doubled in bulk, about an hour. (Mine never takes this long to double, so really watch it, it can overflow) I rise my doughs and sponges on top of my stove with the range light on. The light creates just enough heat to rise my stuff. Gently stir down with a wooden spoon.
2. In another large bowl, or in your kitchen aid, add oil, salt, 2C of the flour and the sponge. Beat hard until smooth. Add remaining flour, .5c at a time, using a wooden spoon if necessary until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl forms.
3. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth and springy, yet slightly tacky. This is important. It must maintain a sticky quality to maintain the moisture. Otherwise you will end up with a brick. It will smooth out during rising.
4. Place dough in deep greased container, turn once to coat, cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk about 1.5-2 hours. Do not let it rise over 2 hours, it will over ferment and have a slightly bitter taste.
5. This is where you can have fun. Divide the dough into two portions. Each portion will be too much for a bread pan. So take an equal amount from each dough ball and put those two portions together. This is too small to be a rectangular loaf, but makes a really nice round, domed loaf, perfect for supper tonight. Form the other dough balls into loaves and place each in a greased loaf pan. Cover all with plastic wrap and let rise about 45 mins.
6. Preheat oven to 375 and place loaves in oven. Bake for 40-45 mins, until they sound hollow when tapped. Take care to not let the tops get too brown. I also made this mistake with these loaves. I forgot to cover them halfway with tin foil. When done, transfer to cooling rack and if you can keep your mitts off em, let em cool all the way before cutting. The loaves do turn out better that way.
7. Enjoy!!
Let me know if you like this one!!

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