My dorm room in college was a studio apartment. It wasn’t long before I was putting that little oven in my teeny kitchen to use and luscious aromas of bread baking wafted through the halls of that old apartment building. I got bit by the bread baking bug! In my naivety, I first tackled bagels, challah, and crusty french breads. Fast forward to marriage and family life when I got into a rhythm of baking this simple everyday delicious whole wheat bread. I can throw it together in my Bosch mixer, let it rise while going about assorted tasks at hand. During the days of packing kids lunches I baked the dough in 2lb coffee cans. (Our kids were the only ones who had PBJ’s in the round!)
Once you get the hang of the basic recipe try experimenting with other flours, soaked whole grains or seeds. Although we prefer this basic recipe, We enjoy it for sandwiches, toast and accompanied by a steaming bowl of soup.
They keep well frozen and are great to have on hand for sharing if they last that long!
makes 6 loaves in 3 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ x 2″ pans
7 c. warm water ( 85 – 105 degrees)
3 Tablespoons of active dry yeast
1/4 c. to 3/4 c. honey
6 – 9 c. whole wheat flour
Sprinkle yeast over water and stir lightly in a large bowl or mixer bowl. Add sweetener: 3/4 c. will make sweet dough where 1/4 c. is enough to make the yeast grow.
Lightly stir in the sweetener, or if you are using a mixer, pulse it to mix.
Add whole wheat flour a cup at a time until the sponge is a consistency of pancake batter. Beat until dough is smooth, or 100 strokes.
Cover with saran wrap or a damp cloth or paper towel and set at room temperature to rise.
Let rise 20 minutes to 70 minutes. If you let it rise for the longer time make sure you have the dough in a large enough bowl to expand in.
2 Tablespoons sea salt
1/2 c. oil (butter, margarine, optional)
7-10 c. combination of unbleached white flour and whole wheat flour
2-3 cups of additional flour for kneading if you are making it by hand
With your mixer on, add salt (and oil if you are using it). Sprinkle in flour as the mixer combines all ingredients, adding enough flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and the dough forms a ball.
If you are mixing by hand, make sure you are folding the ingredients into the dough. Do not stir; keep the dough in one piece as much as possible. Stirring will cut through the dough and you don’t want to do that! Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
Cover bowl with a damp cloth and let rise again for 20 to 70 minutes, again making sure your bowl is large enough if you let it rise for the longer time. If you change bowls at this point (for whatever reason) it’s a good idea to oil the inside of the bowl and roll the ball of dough around in it so as to get some oil on the top of the dough, still covering the dough with something to keep a draft away. (You may at this point choose to let the bread rise again, after punching it down, or go on to the next step).
When it’s done rising, punch dough down and place on a greased board, forming it into 6 small or 4 larger loaves. Place formed loaves into greased loaf pans.
Preheat oven to 350 and let bread rise for another 20-25 minutes. Bake 30 minutes or until when tapped sounds hollow. Let cool before slicing.