Thursday, June 26, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread

If you have ever made whole wheat bread you know that it has a tendency to be dense, dry, and generally unpleasant. I love fibre as much as the next guy, but nobody likes having to drink several litres of water with their sandwich just to get it down. That is why many recipes blend whole wheat and white flours to get a more airy loaf. This bread is made completely of whole wheat flour, but the fermented starter and blend of hard and regular flour gives it a wonderful texture. This may look like a lot of work, but it really isn't. It just takes time, and time results in great bread. The recipe is modified and veganized from The Chez Piggy Cookbook.

Morning of Day One: Starter
- 2 tbsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 2/3 cup soy milk
- 1 3/4 hard whole wheat flour (ask at a bulk food store)

1. Whisk yeast into water in a large bowl. Put lemon juice in a measuring cup and fill with soy milk to 2/3 mark. Stir with a fork to thicken. Add to yeast mixture and whisk in flour. Cover and let rest in a cool place.

Evening of Day One: Starter
- starter from the morning
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 1/2 cups regular whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups hard whole wheat flour

1. Mix everything in a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2: Dough and Bread
- 1 1/2 cups starter
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups regular whole wheat flour
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups hard whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp maple syrup

1. Mix everything together in a large bowl, then knead on a floured counter top until smooth. Let rise in a greased and covered bowl until doubled (about 1.5 hours).
2. Degas dough, divide into two, roll into loaves, and place in loaf pans. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 60 mins, until almost doubled in size.
3. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees, convection (425 regular). Place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack and fill with an inch or so of boiling water. Make three slashes with a razor blade on the top of the loaves and bake for 12 mins (15 mins regular).
4. Remove pan of water, reduce heat to 350 convection (375 regular), and bake loaves for 15-18 mins (20-25 mins regular), until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.
5. Cool on wire racks.

The extra starter will keep in the fridge for a few days. You can also freeze it. Measure out 1 1/2 cup chunks of starter and freeze in containers. Thaw in the fridge the day before you want to make bread. The starter will make 8 loaves total.


SallyT said...

I love to bake but have been too distracted. Your inspiration will get me back on track!

Mad About Udon said...

Mmmm... oven-fresh bread will be the death of my waistline. This looks more than worth it, though!

kindkitchen said...

I would love to try this, but I am confused about the "hard" whole wheat flour. I've never seen it in the bulk bins. Is it the same as whole wheat pastry?

Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Your bread looks yummy, as do most things you post, and I have enjoyed checking in over the last few months. However, I couldn't disagree more with your first sentence! I love whole wheat bread (and yes, I've made it)as it is hearty, substantial, and earthy. To me, white bread is "generally unpleasant", not to mention nutritionally devoid. Each to his own, though, and anyway, we train our taste buds over time to like and appreciate different things... You do a wonderful and generally inspiring job with your blog! Jeff

Eesh said...

I must try this on a weekend, because yes we're not big fans of ww bread around these parts for that very same reason.

Trish said...

This looks great! I make a wheat bread but you are right to get it to a soft consistancy I ahve had to use 1/2 white flour in it. Yet again I am adding something to my shopping list to try. Hard wheat flour. I need to try it. I do not buy bread from the store, only make it, so this sounds good. Thanks!

Vegan Dad said...

I love whole wheat bread, too, it's just that some home made version I have done have had the texture of dense bricks, not bread.

No, whole wheat pastry is much softer and would not work here. My bulk store here sells a "hard whole wheat" which has the higher gluten content of hard white, but also has bran and wheat germ.

mustardseed said...

Oh and vegandad what if I don't have a cast iron skillet? Can I put a huge shallow bowl on the bottom rack?

And I was wondering if my bread would burn if I bake it all the way on the top rack...

Vegan Dad said...

Any metal baking pan will do--cast iron is just durable and won't warp with the heat. Ideally, you should cook your bread in the top half or 1/3 of the oven, and I am not sure there would be enough space for these loaves on the very top rack.

mustardseed said...

I think my loaves would! It'll just be pretty close the heating element.

I must work hard and make this over our long youth day break this weekend.

mustardseed said...

hey vegandad I have a question...

can I make this with gold medal WW flour? That's all I have now...

Or will something bad happen if I use all Gold Medal?