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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

After my first successful foray into the world of baking bread, I decided to make whole wheat bread (which just sounds healthier). I am not really sure what the difference between all the different wheat flours is nutritionally, but just by looking at the textures of the different flours, it seems that whole wheat probably has more fiber than the more processed all purpose or bread flour. My first attempt was just not good, and I had to throw it away. I didn’t count on the dough doubling up in size so fast, so the next time I made it, I cut back drastically on the amount of yeast. A couple of other tweaks and the end result was very tasty. We have been enjoying this with bread and jam for breakfast this week.

¼ tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1.25 cups warm water
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
½- 1 tbsp oil to grease bowls

Heat the water and milk mixture in the microwave for a minute, or on the cooktop till warm. To this add the salt, sugar and yeast and set aside for 5-10 mins. This mixture will turn slightly frothy after 10 mins. In a mixing bowl, take the wheat flour, and add the yeast mixture to the flour. Mix these ingredients well and set aside for 10 minutes. The resultant mixture will be sticky dough. Knead this well for about 10-20 minutes. The dough will be smooth and at the end of the kneading, you should be able to stretch a small piece of dough into a thin sheet without tearing easily. It should be thin enough that it looks like a membrane that light can be seen through. Transfer this to a bowl which has been greased with oil and cover the bread dough with a moist towel. Set this in a warm place for about 3-5 hours till the dough has risen and is double in volume.

Take this risen dough, shape it into a dough roll and put it into a well greased bread pan. Let the dough rise for the second time till it is double in size. At this point in time, you are ready to bake your bread. The second rise time can vary and it took me about 2 hours for the dough to rise.

Bake the bread at 375 F for 25-35 minutes. It took 30 minutes for the bread to look completely done. It was well browned on the top and sides as well.

The water-yeast mixture must be frothy before it’s added to the flour. However, since we haven’t added a lot of yeast as a starter, it will be slightly frothy and bubbly. This helps you gauge the effectiveness of your yeast if it is old before you add it to the flour. If it doesn't become frothy, you need a new packet of yeast. A longer rise time may be needed if the surrounding temperature is cooler than 75F. You can assist the dough rising process by keeping the dough in your oven with the light on to provide a warm environment for the yeast. The longer you knead the dough, the lighter your bread will be. The stretch test is the best way to determine if you have kneaded the dough long enough. Gluten bonds are developed via kneading and the more you knead the dough, more bonds develop in turn making the dough more elastic.


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