Saturday, March 7, 2009

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

I love baking bread and I'm always trying out different recipes. This recipe bakes a white loaf and it's the first white bread I've made homemade. I use whole-grain unbleached white flour and regular whole wheat flour when making it. I don't generally buy bread flour, so I added vital wheat gluten to help with its texture. It makes a more tender loaf with a larger crumb.

This is probably the best bread I've ever made. With this bread, I've made the resolution to wean myself off of store-bought bread. I also hope to start experimenting with various grains, nuts, seeds, and spices. Even sprouts! Give this recipe a try and see how much better bread can be!

Simple Whole Wheat Bread:
3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (or 2 pkgs.)
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat graham flour
2 Tbs. + 2 tsp. vital wheat gluten
3 Tbs. vegan margarine, melted
1 Tb. salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tb. vegan margarine, melted

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and sugar. Add 5 cups whole-grain unbleached white flour and vital wheat gluten, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

It should look like this after a couple of minutes:

It looks deceptively like a tasty chai tea.

Mix in melted vegan margarine and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch (this may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour).

Punch down, and divide into 2 loaves. Place each loaf in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch (another 45 minutes to 1 hour).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. If it sounds hollow when you tap on it, it's done. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted vegan margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely before storing.

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