|You really shouldn't cut into the bread when it is still warm and eat it with jam and butter. That's what I tell my family, anyway.|
For some reason, I haven't blogged much on bread, even though I am quite a bread nerd. I grind my own flour, though not so much recently, as I have ground through two sets of gears on my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and I decided to stop before I did the same to my mother's. I am currently waiting by the mailbox for my brand new German Komo Fidibus Medium grain mill, which I have every expectation will outlast me, but more on the new mill later.
As you may have figured out, I love whole wheat bread. And by whole wheat, I mean 100% whole wheat, no white flour and no added gluten flour. I have practically memorized The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, and have made hundreds of loaves following her recipes. I've mostly had great success by paying attention to the dough: temperature, texture, proofing, kneading and shaping as she describes. For a treat, I also like baking the white New York Times No Knead Bread in a dutch oven. It makes the best crusty loaf you'll find anywhere - and it's pretty simple.
I didn't think it was possible to make a simple, no knead 100% whole wheat bread. I was wrong, and it's even simpler than the NYT bread. I have to give inspiration credit to Real Whole Wheat Bread by Mark Bittman in The Food Matters Cookbook, but in a 4 ingredient recipe, when you change 3 quantities and the baking instructions, I think you can claim a bit of credit for yourself. I've been baking this with commercial whole wheat flour (Canadian, which I believe is made from harder wheat on average than American. I think you're ok if you use whole wheat bread flour in the US, but what do I know - Mark Bittman doesn't specify in his recipe) and the results are very good. I can't wait to try it out with my home ground organic hard wheat. This loaf is not a super-light high wonderbread-wannabe, but it has a moist, not too dense crumb and chewy crust, which is perfect for substantial sandwiches and toast. The long rise gives it a great depth of flavour that not even my Laurel's Kitchen loaves match.
Slow Rise Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
3 cups (450 grams) whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups water
1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water and stir. Dough should resemble a muffin batter: add more water if necessary.
2. Cover bowl and let sit for 12 - 18 hours. This is pretty flexible. You should see some bubbles on the surface and these will appear earlier if the room is warmer, later if the room is colder.
|The loaf, ready to bake.|
3. Oil an 8 x 4 loaf pan and scoop the dough in with a spatula. Smooth the top. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise for 1 - 2 hours until the dough almost reaches the top of the pan.
4. About half an hour before the dough is completely risen, preheat the oven to 375F.
5. Bake the loaf for 50 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when thumped. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.
Notes: This differs from Mark Bittman's version in that I use less yeast and salt, but I haven't found any difference in the dough development. His calls for 2 teaspoons of salt, which is way more than most bread recipes. I use a bit more water than he calls for, though the consistency of the dough is batter-like as he describes. Mark Bittman calls for a 9 x 5 loaf pan but I use the smaller 8 x 4. I've always used the smaller loaf pan for whole wheat bread. I bake mine at a slightly higher temperature and for 5 minutes longer than he does, maybe because I've got more water, but at the internal temperature he recommends (200F), it wasn't baked enough.