Homemade whole wheat bread
The best smell in the world is bread fresh out of the oven. I would bake bread just to get that smell. It is also a big perk that it is delicious and healthier than any bread from the store! This bread is super easy to make but very time consuming. Once you get a rhythm down of when to make the dough, it would become a lot easier. What I have been doing is making the dough at night, around dinner time, and letting it rise while I sleep. That way in the morning it is ready for the next step (the bread needs about 12-18 hours to rise).
- 5 3/4 C whole wheat flour
- 1/4 C vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 t instant or active-dry yeast
- 2 2/3 C cool water
*I used the 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten to improve the breads texture, making it lighter. I have tried it with and without and it does make a big difference, I think.
Above is the dough after I combined the flour, vital wheat gluten, yeast, salt, and water. No neading necessary! The next step is to cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Then just leave the bowl on the counter for the next 12-18 hours. Letting the dough slowly rise aids to the fermentation of yeast. This will give the bread better flavor!
The dough should look like the image above when it is ready for the next step. The color will be a little darker, there should be a yeasty smell, and little bubbles in the dough.
Now the next step is to put a tea towel down on the counter and parchment paper on top. Put flour on top of the paper, the towel, all over your hands and a little on the dough so it isn't as sticky. Pick the dough up and shape it into a round ball. It doesn't need to be perfect since the pot will help shape it as it cooks as well. You could fold it into itself also to make a nice shape. The dough will then be placed, seam side down on the parchment paper.
Now, place the parchment paper and towel up and over the top of the dough. Let the dough sit for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size. For the last 30 minutes that the dough is rising place a lidded pot (Dutch ovens are great for this) into the oven and preheat at 425°. I used an 8 quart cast-iron Le Creuset pot that can handle high heat.
Once those 30 minutes are up, take the pot out and remove the lid. Now pick up the edges of the parchment with the dough on top, and flip the dough down into the pot. Seam side up now. If the dough has not been placed perfectly, not to worry, you can shake the pot around a little to move the dough inside.
Now place the lid back on the pot and put in the oven for 30-50 minutes. I was told to cook the bread for 40-50 minutes but my oven gets super hot and so does the Le Creuset so I usually move on to the next step after about 30 minutes. So the timing will depend on the oven and pot being used. Now, remove the lid and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the bread becomes golden on top. To be completely sure the bread is fully cooked the internal temp should be around 200°, which could be checked with a meat thermometer. Place the loaf on a cooling rack and let cool. Then you are ready to cut into it!!
I love this bread with some almond butter and jelly! Or just as a side with pasta. I was able to use it for four days (until it was gone) and it tasted fresh til the end. I stored it in the Le Creuset.
I have also put whole garlic cloves in, rosemary, and nutritional yeast. So good all of these ways! Any other thoughts/suggestions of additional items to add?