I enjoy baking. Baking my own homemade bread is so rewarding. I love to serve fresh baked bread to my family and have homemade bread for sandwhiches and toast. If there was one thing I really would like to teach you is how to make amazing bread! I know that we are all busy either with little ones or a job and even with other things, but I encourage you to give bread baking a chance. You will see how it is well worth the extra time and effort. Besides making you own bread is healthier and saves you money!
As I have already mentioned, I love to bake. So, I have tried many wheat bread recipes and many have failed. This recipe is not one of those. It may seem difficult since you start it the night before, and there is three rises but it is not a lot of actual hands on time. This tastes just like store-bought bread but without all the chemicals. It is thick and hearty and great for toast, but also fluffy and perfect for making sandwiches for lunch.
A stand mixer is very helpful in bread making. It is the best investment you can make because it helps save you some time kneading. It is one of the best presents my husband has got me! I use it almost every day. Also, the Chicago Metallic loaf pans make your bread slide out of the pan perfectly. I have tried many brands of pans and this is the only one that works perfectly. finally, if you are going to be making your won homemade bread you need to buy some bread bags from King Arthur Flour. It will help your bread stay fresher longer. these few things do require some money, but it saves you even more in the long run. Also, I have included many photos so you can go into this bread baking with confidence.
Whole Wheat Bread
For the sponge
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour or sometimes I use white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons of gluten
1 cup of warm water
1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast
For the soaker
3 cups of white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of wheat germ
2 cups of whole milk
For the dough
1/4 cup of honey
4 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of instant yeast
6 tablespoon soft softened butter
2 tablespoons of oil ( I used coconut oil )
1. Prepare the sponge. In a medium bowl add the wheat flour, gluten, warm water and instant yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixed about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours.
2. Prepare the soaker. In a large bowl, add the wheat flour, wheat germ and milk and stir until a shaggy mass forms then turn on a lightly flour surface and knead until smooth about 3 to 4 minutes. Return to the bowl and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
3. Prepare the dough. Tear the soaker into 1 inch pieces and place in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the sponge, honey, salt, yeast, butter, and oil. Mix on low-speed until dough starts to form. Increase the dough to medium speed and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly grease bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes.
4. Gently press dough down in the center. Spray rubber spatula with oil. Fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding the dough over itself. Turn bowl 90 degrees and do it again. Deep doing this 6 more times ( total of 8 folds ). Cover tightly with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 45 minutes.
5. Grease 2 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 loaf pans. Transfer dough to a well floured counter and divide in half. Roll dough into 9 by 13 inch rectangle. Doll dough up in a cylinder shape and folding the ends in as you go. Pinch seam to seal and place in loaf pan. Repeat with the second loaf. Cover loaves loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. About 1 and 1/2 hours. the loaves should rise about an inch above the lip of the pan.
6. One hour before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and lowest position and preheat to 400 degrees. Place a baking stone on the middle rack. Place a heat proof pan on bottom rack ( not glass ) . Bring 2 cups of water to boil.
7. Using a sharp serrated knife make a 1/4 inch slash down the center of each loaf. Pour boiling water into empty pan and .set the loaves of bread on the baking stone. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake loaves for 40 to 50 minutes. Rotating the loaves halfway through baking. When crust is golden brown let them cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and let cool completely. The loaf you do not use can be wrapped in double plastic wrap and the aluminum foil and can be frozen up to a month.
Recipe source: Cook’s Illustrated