This loaf is by far the star of my extended search for a home made, easy to make, fool proof whole wheat bread recipe. It is easy to make, keeps well and has a great texture. In my attempts to reach a more chewy quality in the bread that will keep it fresher for longer, I also added wheat gluten (some times referred to as gluten flour). It is a form of powdered wheat protein that is already integrated in the more costly “bread flours”. Being the frugal that I am, I buy the simplest whole wheat flour I can find, and then add gluten to it. You can find it in your nearest health store or omit it altogether.
I admit I usually use my Kitchen aid to do most of the kneading. You can definitely do it by hand, for about 10 minutes.
The more bread I bake the more I begin to understand that there can not be an exact recipe with predefined water-flour ratio. It all depends on your flour quality, the humidity of your immediate environment and probably how good you have been this year. I add to this recipe between one and a half and 2 cups of water. The first cup and a half go in immediately, the rest I drizzle gradually until the dough is not too dry and not too sticky. I believe that since this is a whole wheat bread, thus denser and heavier, the mix should be a little wetter then usual. Try it for yourself.
Easy Whole Wheat Bread
In a bowl mix:
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp dry yeast
Place the bowl aside for a few minutes to let the yeast come alive. Meanwhile, combine in the mixer bowl:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp wheat gluten (you can replace 1 Tbsp or both with milk powder. Both ingredients add to the fluffy quality of this bread) – optional
Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the wet ingredients. Pour in the mixer bowl (with flour mixture) and knead for 10 minutes, adding up to another 1/2 cup of water very gradually ( 1 Tbsp at a time), until the dough is as soft as a baby’s behind. Flour your hands and pick up your nice ball of dough. Place it lovingly in an oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Let it rise for an hour inside your oven (turned off) with the oven light on. The heat of the light should be enough to help it double in size.
Now punch the air out of the fluffy dough and shape into one large loaf or two smaller ones. I like to make decorative incisions too. Leave to rise directly on your oiled baking sheet for about 30 minutes. At this point you can brush your loaf in egg wash and sprinkle your choice of decoration on it ( try oatmeal, rock salt, poppy seed or sesame). Bake in a 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes, or until the bread is well baked and golden all around.