This bread is by far the most common bread that I make…it’s my everyday bread. It is exceedingly easy to make, and good for you. It takes just a few basic ingredients and a few hours of your time (with minimal effort). Below are pictures and the very basic directions on how to make it. To learn more about this recipe (and a couple others) and on the ingredients symbiotic relationship, read this article which I wrote for Artvoice a while ago. So here we go…
Begin by combining some of the flour and water, and a tablespoon or two of vital wheat gluten in one bowl (the autolyse) and some of the flour, water, and yeast in another (the preferment). Allow these to rest for a minimum of one hour but as long as 24 hours.
After the alotted time, combine the contents of both bowls into the bowl of an upright electric mixer that is fitted with a dough hook. Then add another tablespoon of yeast…
A couple teaspoons of kosher salt…
A bit of honey…
And some olive oil…
Turn on the mixer and run it on low just until it begins to form a dough.
Then turn it up to medium and knead the dough for about 10 minutes.
You’ll know the dough has been kneaded enough when it passes the “windowpane test.”
Place the dough in a bowl or dough rising bucket and allow it to ferment and rise at room temperature for about an hour or so; it is ready when it has doubled in size.
After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a stable and lightly floured work surface.
Cut the dough into two or three pieces…
Shape the pieces into loaves…
Place the loaves into lightly oiled pans…
And allow them to rise at room temperature for about 45-60 minutes.
Bake the bread in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes…
Then remove the bread from the oven and from their pans (if they are sticking to their pans allow them to sit for about 5 minutes at room temp and they will loosen), and rest them on a wire rack or clean towel and allow them to cool for a few minutes before slicing.
Now here’s the actual recipe…
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
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons instant yeast
3 teaspoons kosher salt
In one bowl make a preferment by combining 2 cups of whole wheat flour with 2/3 cups water and 2 teaspoons of instant yeast. Begin the autolyse in another bowl by combining 4 cups of whole wheat flour, two tablespoons of vital wheat gluten, and 1 3/4 cups water. Stir each bowl just enough to combine the ingredients, taking care not to get yeast into the bowl with the autolyse. If the contents in either of the bowls need more water, add a small amount. 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 honey, olive oil, salt, and 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. 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.