Monday, June 3, 2013

Awesome Whole Wheat Bread for Stand Mixers

I adapted this from a recipe I found online a little while ago, which was for a white bread.  Well, we're not really white bread people.  Of course, using whole wheat flour makes for such a dense bread.   I wasn't going to let a bag of flour tell me how my bread should feel!
This bread is so easy to make.  I mix up the flour mix ahead of time so I can just dump it into my KitchenAid and get to the yeast/water part.  I've tried doing this by weight but I just find measuring to be more accurate.  If you want to weigh, the 5 cups of flour should come to about 650g, if you're measuring properly (I'm talking about you dip-and-dump flour scoopers).  While it's mixing, the amount of flour you need to add to get the texture right will vary depending on how humid it is in your kitchen.  Bench proofing will also vary depending on the temperature.  Anyway, enough talk.

  • 5 cups (650g or so) plus 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 5 tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups warm water (110°F)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup oil or melted margarine
Put the flour, gluten, and salt into the bowl of your mixer (with the dough hook attached).  Give it a stir to get everything distributed.  Get a good-sized container - something that will hold 3-4 cups would be ideal.  Pour in your water and stir the sugar and honey in until it dissolves.  Dump the yeast in and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to let it wake up.  This is why you need a big container - I used a 600mL jar and just about had yeast foam everywhere. 
Once your yeast is foamy, dump it into the flour along with the oil.  Set your mixer to STIR and let it go for 1-2 minutes, until everything is mixed together.  Now turn it off and walk away for 20-30 minutes (or, if you're like me, one episode of Arrested Development).

Just walk away.  Really.
 Fill the kettle and put it on.  Find an old baking pan or a casserole dish and keep it on standby.  Grease a large bowl or whatever you're going to rise your dough in.  Now back to the dough itself.  Turn the mixer to 2 and let it go for 3 minutes, adding flour a spoonful at a time until it pulls away from the sides and bottom of the bowl as it kneads.  Sometimes this is one spoonful, sometimes it's 5-6, sometimes more.  It should still be sticky, just not so sticky that it can't hold together.

Sticky, stretchy, but willing to let go.
Turn it out and form it into a ball, turning the bottom in so that the top gets fairly smooth.  Drop it into your greased bowl.  Fill that old baking pan with your boiling water, about halfway, and put it on the bottom rack of the oven.  Put the bowl on the top rack (make sure there's clearance in case it rises above the edge of the bowl) and close the door.  Let it rise in there until it doubles, which could be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

When it has doubled, take it out and dump it onto a lightly floured surface.  Pat and poke it to redistribute the larger bubbles, and divide it in half.  Shape the halves into balls, turning under again to get the surface nice and tight, then shape into loafy shapes.
Loafy shape on the right, for reference.
Drop them into ungreased loaf pans and cover with a tea towel.  Let them sit until they double.  I leave them until they're about an inch out of the pan.  When they're almost ready, set the oven to 375°F.


Once they've risen enough, slash the tops diagonally with a knife and pop them in the oven - remember that pan of water?  Leave it in there.
Slashed and ready for the oven.

Let the bread bake for 30-40 minutes, until the bread reads between 205-210°F with a probe thermometer.  Don't go over that or you'll have icky dry tough bread.
Close enough.
When it's ready, take it out of the pans and put it on a rack.  You could leave it like this, if you like a crisp chewy crust.  I don't.  If you want a softer crust, dampen some paper towels or napkins and drape them on top of the bread, then put a tea towel on top.


Whichever way you like your crust, leave the bread alone for 30 minutes - don't cut it or tear a piece off or anything.  Avoid the temptation; it's worth it to let the starch set.

If you want to turn this into raisin bread, add an extra 2 tbsp of brown sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon to the flour at the beginning.  Soak some raisins in hot water while the dough is rising.  When it comes out, cut it in half and stretch each half into a long rectangle.
Did I say sprinkle?  I meant meticulously arrange.
Sprinkle the raisins and just a little cinnamon sugar evenly over the top, and roll it up from the short side like a jelly roll.  I usually give it half a roll, then stretch it a little before rolling some more.  Pinch to seal it up, and pinch the ends too, and drop it in your loaf pans.
Let's see that again...

I haven't tried making this bread into rolls of any kind yet.  That's next on my list.

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