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.