Saturday 14 January 2012

Whole Wheat Bread

We often eat whole wheat bread but I used to dislike baking it.  It never came out the way I wanted it to.  It was leaden in texture and the crust browned more than I liked.

I kept trying and trying to improve my whole wheat bread.  I made different recipes—varying the liquids I used, yeast quantities, sweeteners, and amount of salt—but I just couldn’t make it work the way I wanted it to.  Then I found a baking tip on a sack of Rogers rye flour that finally(!) improved the quality of my loaves. 

The tip on the bread bag was a simple one:  Lemon juice is a natural bread conditioner.  Add one tablespoonful for every three to four cups of flour to achieve a lighter loaf when using whole grain flours.  Worth a try, right?  And it worked!  My whole wheat loaves still don't rise as fast or as much as my basic brown bread but the texture is greatly improved over what it used to be. 

Here’s the recipe for my whole wheat bread.  You’ll need:

  • 2 Tablespoons room temperature lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice with enough lukewarm water added to make 2-1/4 cups total
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (not pictured)
  • 6-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Melted butter for brushing on the crust of the baked bread (optional)

Start by combining the lemon juice, warm water, and molasses.  Stir until the molasses dissolves.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water.  Let it stand for 10 minutes or so, until the yeast dissolves and foams up.

Add the oil, flour, and salt, stirring until the flour absorbs the moisture and forms a firm dough. 

If you are making the bread in a mixer as I do, use the dough hook to mix the dough until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, leaving them clean.  

If you’re mixing the bread by hand, knead it until it forms an elastic texture that springs back when lightly touched.

Divide the dough in half and form it into loaves.  

Place the loaves into greased loaf pans and let them rise again until doubled in size.  This takes longer than it would with a dough containing white flour.  Mine rose for about 2 hours and still didn't rise as much as a white bread or half whole wheat loaf would.

Bake the bread at 375˚F for 40 to 45 minutes.  If the crust browns too quickly, cover it with foil.  Rotate the pans half way through the cooking time. 

Test the bread for done-ness by turning it out of the pans and tapping the bottom of the loaves.  It should sound hollow.  If not, put it back in the pans and return it to the oven to bake a few more minutes.

When the bread is done, brush the crusts with melted butter.  Allow the loaves to cool completely before slicing.

This bread makes great toast.

This post is linked to the Traditional Tuesdays Whole Food Blog Hop hosted by Whole New Mom.


Unknown said...

I'm on a mission to find a great whole wheat bread (sandwich) so we don't have to buy ANY bread anymore. Will give yours a go! Probably tomorrow. Love the molasses! As always, great recipes Beth! xoxo

Aunt B said...

Thanks Tara. I'm glad you like the recipe. :)