How to bake whole-wheat bread

Want to try your hand at baking bread? Use these easy step-by-step instructions for making the perfect loaf

Making true whole-wheat bread

Photo by Alex Farnum

Making true whole-wheat bread

A bread that's 100 percent whole-grain can be dense and dry, but this one, by Lorrette Patzwald, who works with Ponsford's Place in San Rafael, California, is a revelation—moist and springy, with amazing depth of flavor. She starts by soaking some coarse grains to give the bread texture. Patzwald's secret for working with local flours, which aren’t as predictable as supermarket flours, is to let your eyes and sense of touch—not just measurements—guide you along. Her directions tell you how.

The recipe that follows makes one loaf (1 lb., 14 oz.) and takes 3 hours, plus 4 hours to stand and cool. You'll need:

For the soaker

  • 5 tsp. coarse whole-grain polenta or corn grits*
  • 3 tbsp. bulgur wheat
For the dough

  • About 3 1/2 cups whole-wheat bread flour such as hard red, hard white, or Red Fife
  • 1 3/4 tsp. instant yeast such as RapidRise
  • 1 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • About 2 tbsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp. melted butter
*Find whole-grain polenta and corn grits such as Community Grains and Bob's Red Mill at well-stocked grocery stores, communitygrains.com, and bobsredmill.com

Make soaker

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Make soaker

Put polenta and bulgur in a small bowl, add 1/2 cup boiling water, and let stand until grains are softened, 3 to 4 hours.

Make dough

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Make dough

Combine 3 1/2 cups flour, the yeast, and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. room-temperature water, the soaker, and 2 tbsp. oil, mixing on low speed with a dough hook or stirring by hand with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. The dough should be soft and tacky; adjust with flour or water as necessary.

Knead the dough

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Knead the dough

If using a mixer: Beat on medium speed, scraping down inside of bowl occasionally, until dough is smooth, soft, and stretchy (it should still feel tacky), 12 to 15 minutes.

If kneading by hand: Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead with damp hands, adding only a light coating of flour and wetting hands as required to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and stretchy (it should still feel tacky), 12 to 15 minutes.

Let rest

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Let rest

Let dough rest 5 minutes for the moisture to even out. Make any final flour or water adjustments, using mixer or by hand, adding water or flour, until dough feels soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky.

First rise

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First rise

Transfer dough to a 2-qt. glass measure, if you have one, or put in a medium bowl. Cover bowl and let dough rise at room temperature until it’s 1 1/2 times its original size, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours; when touched gently, it should spring back slowly.

Shape loaf

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Shape loaf

Punch dough down, knead a couple of times, and shape into a smooth 9-in. oval.  Set in an oiled 5- by 9-in. loaf pan. Brush top with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

Second rise

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Second rise

Let rise until dough comes to top of pan and holds a small dent when pressed with a finger, 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.

Bake

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Bake

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°. When dough has risen, brush with butter and bake until bread is nicely browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers at least 195°, about 40 minutes.

Let bread cool in pan on a rack about 10 minutes, then loosen from pan (if it sticks, cool in pan another 5 minutes). Cool at least 1 hour on rack.

Full written recipe: True Whole-Wheat Bread

Printed from:
http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/techniques/baking-bread-whole-wheat-bread-00418000079185/