Tried and True Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
4 1/2 years ago I decided buying quality whole wheat bread from the store was expensive. Naturally I decided to grind my own wheat flour and bake the bread myself. Most wheat bread recipes are either dense and dry or use white flour to make it light and fluffy. I wanted a Whole Wheat Bread Recipe using 100% whole wheat flour that was still light, fluffy, soft, and delicious.
For a year I made 4 loaves of bread every week. I got advice, mashed recipes, and and continually tweaked before settling on my favorite recipe. My Tried and True Whole Wheat Bread recipe is soft, fluffy, and tastes great using only whole wheat flour.
We usually eat fresh bread for after school snack the day I bake. The kids like to spread butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on their pieces of bread. My youngest likes to move a stool over to the counter and eat the fresh bread by the fistfuls. If the bread is warm, I like just butter-I love when the butter melts on the thick slice of warm bread! If the bread is cold I usually opt for jam-strawberry freezer jam in my favorite. We also generally have fresh bread with soup or beans for dinner. That eats up at least a loaf. The rest go into my big tupperware and are stored in the refrigerator to discourage bread mold.
I won’t call it no-fail because that isn’t completely accurate. My friend Jenny tried it (in a smaller batch) and it wouldn’t rise for her. Then I moved states and it took another 6 months of making bread every week or two to get it working right again. I also tend to forget the salt. And while bread without salt is edible, it tastes funny. And is a bit off-putting. Unfortunately my kids know the taste of salt-less bread well…
Despite what I have in my directions, I often add the potato flakes, honey and salt to the mixture before the yeast has proofed. I’ve made this recipe so many times I have it memorized, but I run the risk of forgetting the salt unless I put it in right at the beginning. Plus, in this order I can use the same measuring cup and Tablespoon and only wash one. The recipe still works. Just get that salt in…
You can find Wheat Gluten and ground Flax Seed at Wal-Mart in the baking isle. Once I finished tweaking and became committed to my bread recipe, I ordered a big can of Wheat Gluten from Honeyville. The big #10 can sits in my refrigerator as I slowly use it up. I still buy the flax seed from Wal-Mart.
I put my pans in the oven to rise so I don’t have to transfer them after they have risen. Sometimes the pans get knocked around too much during the transfer and the bread falls. Then I have flat topped bread, which makes me sad until my 7 year old reminds me the bread still tastes good and that’s what matters most. But pretty bread is so satisfying.
If my house is cold I often turn on the oven to warm while I am shaping the loaves. Then I turn it off and leave the oven cracked after I put the bread in to rise. Here in Massachusetts I was having problems with over risen bread. I realized I have a heat vent right in the corner where my oven is and even though my house is cold, that corner was warm enough without warming up the oven for the final rise. I started putting the loaves in the cold oven to rise and am back to getting lovely risen bread.
Once you discover the little minor tweaks for your house and state/altitude, this bread recipe works like a charm. So I present: My Favorite-Works Almost All the Time-Whole Wheat Bread Recipe.
Tried and True Whole Wheat Bread
4 cups water
2 Tbs. yeast
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup potato flakes
1 Tbs. salt
1/4 cup wheat gluten
1/4 cup flax seed *edited to clarify- ground flax seed*
8 cups wheat flour, divided
Heat water in microwave for 90 seconds. Put honey in mixer and pour warm water on top. Then add yeast (order is to keep honey from killing the yeast). Mix just one or two bursts and let the yeast proof.
Add the rest of ingredients down to and including flax seed plus 4 cups of flour. Mix and let then let sit for 10 minutes to sponge.
Add enough of the remaining 4 cups flour to just clean the bowl (make a dough thick enough that it won’t stick to the bottom of the bowl). Mix dough in mixer for 10 minutes (this replaces kneading and helps create more gluten in the bread). Turn off mixer, remove dough hook, cover and let raise for 20-25 minutes.
Shape the loaves into greased bread pans (I use 4) and set inside the oven covered by thin cloth to rise another 20-25 minutes. (During winter I turn the oven onto warm while I am shaping the loaves and then turn the oven off when I put the loaves in the oven and crack the door. During summer I just place the loaves in the oven and leave the oven light on to make sure the oven is warm.)
Take off the cloth, turn on the oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 28-30 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately dump out of bread pans to cool on a cloth. Rub butter on the tops of the loaves while hot if desired.