Thursday, January 27, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

*sigh*  I have to confess that I've not put on a few of these newest recipes because they've kind of become "signature" recipes.  I keep these handy, delicious recipes taped up to my kitchen wall (I'm not a great memorizer) and use them all of the time.  I have been stingy with this whole wheat bread recipe, but I'm trying on my generosity hat and posting it here today.  When you try this recipe, you will see why I have been selfish.  It's the best whole wheat bread recipe EVER.  I got it from a friend of mine from when we lived in Tampa.  YUM.

Preheat: 350*
Category: wheat, bread, honey, posted on my wall

These ingredients are posted in the order you would need to use your breadmaker.
1 1/2 cup Warm water
1/8 cup Honey
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 Egg
3 1/2 cups (Finely Ground) Whole wheat flour* Read up on the types of flour at the end of this post.  Also, if you double the recipe, you'll want to double it not to seven cups, but EIGHT cups.
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1 1/2 Tablespoon Yeast

1 teaspoon Vitamin C (for bread preservation)
(ground) Flax seed (for additional nutrition) Don't try and be a nutritional hero and add flax seed unless you're already pretty good at making bread...  And then if you're pretty good, add the flax seed BEFORE adding the flour... You can add anywhere from 1/4 cup to a full 1 cup...  Be aware that flax seed has more fat than flour, so you may have to adjust the olive oil.

1.  If using a breadmaker, use the wheat bread or dough settings.  Remember that wheat bread absorbs water like CRAZY, so you can't just keep adding wheat flour to the dough like you would white flour.  Let it knead for a good long while before attempting to add more wheat flour and THEN only a quarter cup at a time.  This recipe is already well-balanced, so unless it's a really wet day or the barometer is high, you hopefully won't have to add extra flour at all.

2.  If NOT using a breadmaker...  Put your warm water, honey and yeast into a large bowl and mix together until the honey is basically dissolved.  Set the timer for 10 minutes and let the mixture sit.

3.  In Bowl #2, pour in the olive oil and the egg, then stir together.

4.  In Bowl #3, measure out the flour, salt and the optional vitamin c.

5.  At the end of the 10 minutes, check to see if there is a good head on the yeast mixture.  If yes, mix in the wet ingredients into the yeast, then the dry.

6.  Knead your dough!  Again, because this is important, knead for a while before deciding whether or not you want to add more flour.  I like to use a light brushing of olive oil on my hands if the dough is too sticky to work with easily while I'm waiting to add more wheat flour.  You want a smooth dough that's not too sticky before moving on.

7.  Let your dough rise to double its size.  My hint for white bread works for wheat bread too.  Cover your dough and preheat your oven to the lowest temperature, leaving the oven door OPEN.  My oven preheats to 170*F, which is standard.  Using a "warm" feature is good too, and 85*F is the PERFECT temperature for bread to rise just right.  Sometimes I'll use my (food) thermometer to measure the temperature and if I can get to about 100*F, I'll close the oven door, turning the oven OFF.  I check the dough in just 30 minutes using this trick, and usually it's risen enough.

8.  Punch down the dough, knead it for a good minute, then shape into rolls or loaves into GREASED pans. 

9.  Let your dough rise to double its size once again.  As long as your dough is covered, the oven trick can work great at this phase too.

10.  Preheat your oven to 350*F and bake the bread for... longer than 30 minutes.  If you're making a LOAF of bread, you can tell it's done by knocking on the bottom of the pan.  If it sounds HOLLOW, chances are good that the bread has cooked through.  If you want that golden-brown bread crust, I find that the crust looks darker while it's IN the oven, so if it LOOKS golden-brown, it's probably not done yet.  If you're making ROLLS, use the color check test (slightly darker than golden-brown), then if I'm still not sure, I quickly stick my (clean) finger in between a couple of rolls and see if it's still doughy. 

11.  Brush tops of loaves or rolls with butter.  Let the bread cool on a cooling rack for a crustier crust, or on a towel for a softer crust.

* Types of Wheat (this is not just a link for reference, but also a fantastic website for breadmaking)

In the United States, there are six predominate types of wheat.
Hard winter red wheat: This wheat is mostly grown in the Plains states as well as the northern states and Canada. It is a versatile wheat with excellent baking characteristics for pan bread. It is also used for Asian noodles, hard rolls, flat breads, general purpose flour and as an improver for blending. It is moderately high in protein (about 10.5%) which makes it good as an all-purpose or bread flour. About 40% of all of the wheat grown in the United States is hard winter red wheat.
Hard spring red wheat: This wheat is mostly grown in the northern states and Canada. It is considered the aristocrat of wheat when it comes to "designer" wheat foods like hearth breads, rolls, croissants, bagels and pizza crusts. It is also used as an improver in flour blends. It is one of the hardest wheats and therefore has one of the highest protein counts (13.5%). About 24% of the wheat grown in the United States is hard spring red wheat.
Soft winter red wheat: This wheat is mainly grown in the eastern states. It is a low protein wheat with excellent milling and baking characteristics for pan breads, general purpose flour and as an improver for blending. About 25% of the wheat grown in the United States is soft winter red wheat.
Hard winter white wheat: This is the newest class of U.S. wheat. It is sweeter and lighter in color that red wheat, with a protein profile similar to hard winter red wheat. It is great for making Asian noodles, whole wheat, pan breads and flat breads. Only about 1% of the wheat grown in the United States is hard winter white wheat, but it is gaining in popularity.

Soft spring white wheat: This type of wheat is generally grown in a few eastern states and in the Pacific Northwest and California. It is a low moisture wheat with high extraction rates that provides a whiter product for cakes and pastries. This variety is similar to soft winter red wheat with a slightly sweeter flavor. About 7% of the wheat grown in the United States is soft spring white wheat.

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