Last night I was thinking about the whole wheat bread that I make. I was thinking how delicious and wonderfully healthy and guilt free and easy it is. I felt so happy just thinking about it. I want to spread that happiness onto you so I'm going to share the recipe. But before I do, I also want to briefly talk about where my mind wandered to after I pondered the bread.
Without my dear friend Lindsay, I would not have this recipe. She came to my house, taught me every step and typed up very detailed directions that would never steer me wrong. Even though it was originally Lindsay's recipe, now I feel like it has become mine too. Not just mine in the sense that I can make it and pass it on to others but mine in a sort of identifiable way. Like a signature. In the same way that freckles, an engagement ring or Kate Gosselin's (old, sad) hair are a signature. It is part of me.
There are times in life where we find things that add to our own personal puzzle. We never know what vessel will deliver each piece but when we receive it, we should hold onto it. I know for me definition has come from books, movies, dreams, smells, music, people and in this case a recipe. So a big hug and a big thanks to Lindsay for sharing a part of herself and allowing me to make it part of myself. Pretty deep for whole wheat bread eh? :) I wonder what some of your signatures are? I'd like to know.
Whole Wheat Bread
5 cups very warm water (a little warmer than baby bottle warm)
3 Tbsp. yeast at room temperature
3/4 c. honey (can use molasses or real maple syrup)
1/4 c. applesauce
1/4 c. melted unsalted butter
1 heaped Tbsp. vital wheat gluten flour
1 heaped Tbsp. salt (you will be sad if you forget to put this in)
1 heaped Tbsp. dough enhancer (from Shar's)
a couple splashes of orange juice or lemon juice (pretty important in my book)
1 c. milled golden flax
10 cups whole wheat flour freshly ground + ~3 more cups flour (can be bread flour or whole wheat)
I half this recipe and make it in my Kitchen Aid. If you have a Bosch, it will fit the whole recipe easy.
Bloom the yeast by placing the warm water, yeast, and honey into your mixing bowl. Cover and let stand for 5 min. If the mixture is bubbly and smells like bread you're good to go. Next, dump in the rest of the ingredients except for the final 3 cups of flour all at once and start up your mixer fitted with a bread hook. Cover (or it will explode) and mix for roughly 1 minute and then check the consistency. It should look like gooey tan mud. Add about a cup of flour and mix for another minute. Check again--this time, the dough should be starting to pull away from the sides. Add more flour (roughly 1-3 cups depending on the humidity etc...) until the dough pulls completely away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a dough ball (roughly--this dough is really sticky so it will never look like one of those pretty dough balls you see on cooking shows). If you think you've added too much flour you can always add a little bit more warm water to soften it up again.
Let the mixing bowl go to work for about 5 minutes. If you forget and it goes for longer it won't really matter, but don't skimp on your 5 minutes!
While mixing, prepare your raising bowls. For a full recipe, I use my two largest bowls in the house. Spray them with Pam and prepare two sheets of plastic wrap by spraying them with Pam also. This may seem unnecessary but the dough gets so big you'll be glad later when you took the extra time to spray first.
When it's done kneading, oil your hands (VERY IMPORTANT!) and divide your dough in half to put into your two prepared bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a part of your house that is not cool or drafty. Let the dough raise until doubled--roughly 1 hour. Punch down the dough and let raise again until doubled--about another hour. Then after the second punch, prepare 4 bread pans by spraying with Pam w/flour (I don't use regular Pam because I think it makes the crust taste weird) or by buttering them. Using oiled hands (never flour!) divide your dough into four pieces and create smooth tops by stretching the dough on the top and tucking it underneath. Pat your dough balls into your pans and press to make sure they touch all sides of the pans. Cover with a light, clean dish rag and let raise until doubled once again (about 30 minutes) while preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes or until banging on the bottom of the bread pans sounds hollow. Don't overlap the pans in the oven or the crusts will brown unevenly (i.e. don't put 2 pans on top and 2 directly underneath them or the ones on the bottom won't get brown. Alternatively, you could switch the pans halfway through the baking.) After the bread comes out of the oven, let rest in pans until cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes). Take bread out of pans and butter the tops with salted butter (that gives them the nice deep brown crust). Don't let them sit in the pans too long or the bread will sweat and get a little soggy. It needs to breathe.
When cool, bag the loaves and freeze any you don't want to eat right away. Will keep ~2-3 months in the freezer. When ready to eat, take bread out of bag to defrost, otherwise it will get soggy. If you can't wait and want to eat frozen bread right away you can stick in the oven for 15 minutes to defrost.
Tada! Details galore but now you won't have any questions. This recipe is straight from the master herself who, I forgot to mention, created this recipe and perfected on her own. Cha. I know! Try it once and you will be shocked at how truly easy and delicious it is. Do you realize there is only 1 TBS of butter per loaf?!?!? That's it. One measly TBS! No other fats, only natural sugars and unless you want, no white flour at all. And there's no need to knead!!! He...he...he... Perfect? Mana? I think so.