Whole Wheat Bread

Baking bread intimidates me. Yet, I love to do it. I love feeling the dough with my hands. I love seeing it magically rise. I love smelling it bake. Most of all, I love tasting it. Few things in this world are better than freshly baked bread. 

I've had my fair share of bread failures. The yeast that didn't rise. The bread that was like a brick. The bread that tasted like I had added a cup of salt (I swear I didn't!). 

Despite these failures, I keep coming back for more. 

Buying good quality whole grain bread is expensive. By baking bread, I can save about 50% off the price of a typical whole wheat bread loaf. As an added bonus, I know exactly what is in my bread. 

My goal was to find a whole wheat bread recipe that I could use for our everyday toasting and sandwich needs. I found a great recipe on VegWeb that was easy and yielded good results. Good, not great. I really like being great... 

I wanted to improve upon two things: a denser, moister texture and a deeper flavor. The way to do that is to make the bread slowly. So, instead of taking three hours to make the bread, it now takes 8 hours to make the bread. 

To slow down the bread, I added less yeast. To increase the moisture level, I added less flour. This means that my bread just got better while costing me less to make it. Score! 

I love it when I can make something good, great. For Valentine's Day, I made a chocolate cake (recipe was by Sally Schneider). It was good, but really dry. 

So, the next day, I crumbled the cake and added some coconut oil and agave nectar until it held together nicely. Ta Da! Cake balls. er... flowers!

Pressing the moistened cake into a silicone tray (that happens to be in the shape of little flowers) was super easy. I froze it for about 30 minutes before popping them out and storing them in the fridge. Dangerous. So dangerous. I find myself reaching into the fridge for "just one more" maybe a little to often. I may also dip them in some whipped cream before popping them in my mouth. I love it when I can make something good, great!

Sneak Preview: I've been trying my hand at homemade mozzarella cheese! My first attempt was fair. The cheese was a bit mild and the texture a bit tough, but the process worked overall. My second attempt was a catastrophe. Everything was going so well until it all fell apart in the last step. When I find success, I'll share what I've discovered with you!

What good things have you tweaked to make great? 

Whole Wheat Bread
2 loaves, about 8 hours (about 45 minutes active)

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I use turbinado, but regular sugar will work too)
2 tablespoons molasses
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups, approximately (1 lb 13 oz or 825g) whole wheat flour

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the yeast and warm water. Stir to dissolve. Add the oil, sugar, molasses, and salt. Stir to combine. Add all but about a cup of the flour to the bowl. Stir. The dough will be quite sticky still. Keep stirring until all the flour is incorporated very well. Turn out to a well-floured surface (use all but a tablespoon or so of flour). Knead slightly until the flour is incorporated and the dough is a ball. This shouldn't take more than a minute or two. Place in an oiled bowl, turning once so all sides of the bowl are oiled. Cover with a towel.
  2. Let rise for about 4 hours, or until double in size.
  3. Punch down the dough and turn out on a lightly floured surface. Divide into two parts and shape into two loaves. Lightly oil two loaf pans and place a loaf in each pan. Cover with a towel.
  4. Let rise for about 3 hours, or until double in size.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the loaves for about 36-40 minutes. Let cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing. Wrap one of the cooled loaves in a plastic bag and freeze until ready to use.
Nutritional facts per slice (46g): 109 calories; 2.2g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 165mg sodium; 19.4g carbohydrates; 0.7g dietary fiber; 2.4g protein.

Print this recipe. Adapted from VegWeb.