Whole Wheat Bread

posted in: Bread, Recipes, Yeast Bread | 7

At one time, I made bread fairly often, but I fell out of the habit the last couple of years. I got a stand mixer for Christmas and have been baking bread again.

I have a tendency to rush the dough-making process and end up with less than spectacular results. Lately, in an effort to slow myself down, I’ve been starting with a sponge, using all of the water and yeast, and about a third of the total flour. It’s working spectacularly. Every loaf has risen well and the flavor has been awesome. I think the bread even keeps better now.

This was my simplest bread yet and so, so good.

Whole Wheat Bread

3-3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1-3/4 cups warm water (about 105 F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Measure flour and vital wheat gluten into a medium bowl and whisk together with a fork. Add water and yeast to a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with dough hooks. Scoop up about a cup and a half of the flour mixture and add it to the water and yeast. Combine well with a fork, cover the mixture, and let stand for 45 minutes to an hour. This sponge will bubble up and expand.

Add the olive oil, molasses and salt to the sponge and whisk in with a fork. Begin adding the remaining flour a cup at a time. If you plan to knead by hand, use a large wooden spoon to work the flour into the dough. Then, turn the dough out into a large cutting board and knead for 10 minutes. If you are kneading with a stand mixer, start the mixer now, and let it run while you add the flour. You may need to stop the machine once or twice and work some of the flour into the dough with a spoon. Once the flour is incorporated, let the machine knead the dough for 5 minutes. You will probably need to knead the dough by hand in the bowl for a minute to form it into a smooth ball.

Place the dough into an oiled, medium bowl. (This can be the bowl that you measured the flour and wheat gluten into earlier.) Cover and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for an hour, until doubled in size.

Oil a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Shape dough to fit the pan. Cover and allow to rise again until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Heat oven to 350 F, and bake bread for about 30 minutes.

To test your bread for doneness, turn the loaf out of the pan and rap sharply on the bottom with your knuckes; your loaf should sound hollow. If it doesn’t make a sound, bake a little longer.

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7 Responses

  1. Looks great, I’ve been searching for a whole wheat recipe to try. This is the second time I’ve see vital wheat gluten, what is it? Hope that’s not a stupid question, but I am very new at baking bread, and I don’t know how to use google…lol. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Erin. Gluten is the part of the wheat kernel that contains the protein. Vital wheat gluten is just this portion, with the starch and bran removed.

    White bread flour actually has more protein than whole wheat. If you add more protein to whole wheat dough in the form of vital wheat gluten, your whole wheat bread will rise higher and have a better texture.

    You can find small boxes near the flour in any large grocery store. (Hodgson’s Mill brand, usually.)

  3. Looks delicious, Claire. I love how easy making wholegrain breads is with vital wheat gluten. I recently tried a whole-wheat-rye-buckwheat bread with vital wheat gluten to help it rise, and it turned out great.

  4. Actually, Vaishali, I think the best explanation I’ve read of why you would use vital wheat gluten was on your blog, in the introduction to your whole wheat French bread.

  5. Hey Claire,
    Is it okay with you if I post a link to this bread recipe from my little blog? I’ve made this recipe quite a few times now so I wanted to share it. It’s a great recipe and I love the texture! The last few times I’ve made it, it’s been a little too tacky, even after adding more flour, and it stuck to the bread pan a little bit. I don’t know why! But anyway, let me know :)

  6. Allysia, I’d be flattered if you would link back. Go for it!

    As for the dough being too tacky, we’re probably using different flours or our weather is different. As I recall, I used Arrowhead Mills organic flour the first couple of times. The next time, I used King Arthur White Wheat flour, and my dough was pretty wet, too. I left it that way and liked the result, but add more flour if you need it.

  7. Anonymous

    I inherited an old wheat grinder from my dad, so I just used 4 cups of freshly ground wheat, assuming the “vital wheat gluten” would make up the right portion… It worked beautifully!

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