You might be wondering if your computer screen is breaking because I’m posting about cooking!? You actually did come to the right place, but I have a disclaimer. I really, really don’t like to cook. Like really. If you gave me a choice of cooking or cleaning a public restroom it would be a toss up. But, I cook every darn day for my family because I love them. I consider it my greatest domestic sacrifice.
There is one thing, however, I kinda enjoy (please don’t tell anyone). Homemade whole wheat bread. I’m not sure if I like eating it so much my taste buds cloud my non-cooking brain, but mmm… it just warms my heart. And it’s all my mother-in-laws fault. She is the best whole wheat bread maker to ever grace the planet earth. And I am not kidding. She has tried to teach me about six times the art, but this last time I took notes in my own words and now I am passing them on to you!
Here is the recipe with a few instructions. The secrets to whole wheat bread follow. This recipe makes 3.5 regular bread pan loafs.
- Combine 5 cups warm water (see secret 3 for how warm) with 2 tablespoons yeast and let it rise til it bubbles
- Add 2/3 cup honey, 2/3 cup oil, 2 tablespoons salt and 7 cups whole wheat flour
- Blend on medium for 1 minute
- Add about 5 more cups flour (see secrets 6 and 7 how to tell how much)
- Blend for ten minutes
- Let it rise for 1 hour then mix for 5 seconds
- Butter your hands and place into greased pans
- Cover and let it rise for 1 more hour
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
- Eat your heart out!
1. Grind your wheat. I don’t own a wheat grinder. I borrow them every time I make bread. For some reason the wheat you grind right before tastes the best, but if you don’t have the option, buy real ground 100% wheat flour (brand does matter here). The fresher the better.
2. Bosch. These are the best mixers for bread, something about the plastic bowl and the way it mixes. I don’t have own of these either! Ha! I borrow each time. If you have a normal size Kitchen Aid (like me) half the recipe above, or it won’t fit!
3. Pee-warm water. Getting your yeast to rise really only takes three things; good yeast, a little time, and water the temperature of pee. Too cold it doesn’t rise, too hot kinda burns it. Just remember, pee-warm. Give your yeast some time to rise. Also, combine your water and yeast in your mixing bowl, one less thing to clean. Always wait for the yeast to “bubble”, that takes about five minutes and it’ll look like this:
You’ll know later that you did this step right because in one hour of rising your dough looks like this:
4. When adding the oil and honey, pour the oil into your measuring cup first then the honey. That way the honey doesn’t stick!
The feel. It drove me crazy when good bread makers would tell me that you know the dough is good when it feels right. What in the world is that supposed to mean!? My last tricks are how to know what that elusive feel is, in words anyone can understand.
5. The dough will start to pull from the side of the bowl when you’re mixing. NOT this, this is still too wet:
It looks like THIS (beautiful!):
6. Dough that is perfect will feel like brand-new play dough. Or really fresh taffy. Soft, a tiny bit sticky, and workable, that is the stuff delicious bread is made out of!
7. Avoid the old gum feeling. You know what gum feels like when you have chewed it for too long… hard and yucky. Well, if your dough feels like that it has too much flour and needs more water! Start by adding 1/4 cup of water and mixing… keep going until you reach the yummy play-dough feel!
8. Butter your hands. When you put your bread into pans, butter those phalanges and revert back to preschool for a moment and mold a bread loaf like you’re playing with clay. This is my favorite part.
I have two sisters that live in this desert town with me and they won’t turn on their oven between Memorial Day and Labor Day! Well, Labor Day has past and Autumn is here (it’s cooling off to about 75 degrees) so the ovens are getting dusted off, and the whole wheat bread is melting in my mouth. It’s one meal (yes I serve this bread for dinner) that no one in my family balks at and they are actually excited to eat. Some hot bread, cheese, apples, and/or tuna and BAM instant happiness around here.
For all you bread makers out there please feel free to comment any secrets you may have. Come on, challenge those dough skills toward the greater good!