Okay, so here is something about me you likely do not know…I was once one of these people that thought making homemade bread was difficult. Well, it’s not. And even after I had mastered it and became somewhat obsessed with making it I still thought it was impossible to make a really good loaf using 100% whole wheat flour. Well, surprise (again), it can be and it is really simple. Five ingredients, that’s really all you need, four if you don’t add the extra gluten (but this really does add a nice texture to whole wheat bread). Anyhow, bread is easy. The best place to start is now. Like anything, you get better with practice. That first loaf–or even the first dozen loaves–may not be great, but they will be yours. But soon enough people will be asking for it. Try making your own bread. You won’t regret it.
100% Whole Wheat Bread
Makes 2 loaves
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 cups water
3 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
In one bowl make a preferment by combining 2 cups of whole wheat flour with 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons of instant yeast. Begin the autolyse in another bowl by combining 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons of wheat gluten, and 2 cups water. Stir each bowl just enough to combine the ingredients, taking care not to get yeast into the bowl with the autolyse. Cover both bowls and allow to rest and ferment for 30-90 minutes, during which time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak the grain, swelling the gluten.
After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and remaining 3 teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans (or shape them pre-form and place them on baking sheets). Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.
Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.