The LAST whole wheat bread loaf you’ll ever need (vegan)

100% whole wheat bread has been the bane of my baking life for years. The whole grain can be dry, or gummy, or dense. Many of the conventional ways to offset this is to add oil, sugar, and refined white flour. I have been working tirelessly for weeks on end slaving in the kitchen trying out recipes for a week and have found one that I really think is top notch. The secret is to allow more time for rising (for both rises) and also to add more vital wheat gluten, which gives it more “umph.”

This is a play off of one of my one recipes, which was itself a play off of one of my mom’s recipes for just a plain ol’ white loaf of French bread.

The LAST whole wheat bread loaf you’ll ever need

First, a note on making breadIMG_1494

Traditional bread requires the following steps: Knead > Rise (1-2 hours) > knead and shape, place in pan > Rise (30 mins) > Bake.

There are three school of bread-making: (1) Old school hand-kneaders, (2) Those who prefer mixers with a dough attachment, and (3) Bread machine people. If you’re a hand-kneader, you do not need my tips or tricks. You’re bad ass. But if you waffle between the control of the mixer and the ease of the bread machine, there is a simple solutions. Each bread machine has a setting “Dough” that allows you to do your mixing and your first rise in a nice, warm temperature-controlled environment. Once the first rise is over, you can knead and shape the loaf and stick it in a bread pan manually. Hands-on, it’s about 10 minutes of work.

And here is another trick, people get bread machines for wedding and housewarming gifts, or they get plucky watching late night infomercials, and they never, ever use them. You do not need to pay full price for a bread maker, just check your local yard sales and thrift shops. I got mine for $6.00 at Salvation Army. It had never been used.

Finally, if you are a newbie, I recommend watching Julie Child talk discuss how to make bread. This will give you a solid foundation in bread-making. I’ve done by best to give you some pointers along the way, though.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Combined the water, sugar, and yeast in your bread maker. You can wait 15 minutes or longer to proof (this gives extra flavor), but if you’re like me you’ll just check to make sure the yeast activates and move on to step 2.
  2. Add in the flour, wheat gluten, olive oil, and salt. Be sure to add the salt last, because salt can kill yeast if it dissolves in the water too soon.
  3. Turn on your bread machine to “Dough” (or set your mixer to “low” with the bread hook attachment)
    • Note: Check your dough as it is kneading and if it looks gloopy, add more flour. If it is dry, add more water. You are looking for
      a tight, shiny, completely formed ball that is spongey to your touch.
  4. The kneading takes about a half hour, and the rise is 60-90 minutes.
    • You are looking for the dough to more than double in size, and be tight and puffy on top.

      IMG_1488
      First rise
  5. Remove the bread and knead it, forming it into a loaf, and place in a floured loaf pan. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place.
    • I roll the bread 3-4 times while pinching and rolling the ends of dough into the roll. Then I pinch the seam and place the dough seal-down on a greased and floured load pan.
  6. Meanwhile heat the oven to 375* Fahrenheit. Let the dough complete it’s second rise while the oven is warming. Once the loaf has increased in size to be about 1″ above the crest of the pan (you’re looking for a full, round, puffy dough).

    IMG_1492
    Second rise
  7. Place the loaf in the oven immediately (so it does not fall), and reduce the oven to 350* Fahrenheit.
    • Bake for 25 minutes. Some people like to open the door every ten or so minutes and spray the bread with water. I’m lazy and usually skip this, but it will make your bread crispier.
    • Remove loaf from pan at 25 minutes and bake the loaf for another 10 or so minutes without the pan.
    • The loaf is ready when you can “knock” at the bottom.
  8. Let bread cool for 15-25 minutes. If you cut into it too shortly, all the steam will be released and  your bread will be flat and gummy as a result.
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