Friday, June 11, 2010

The Goodness that is Whole Wheat Bread!

My Mom has this whole wheat bread recipe that she used on a weekly basis for most of my childhood. Every Friday she would pull out her wheat mill, grind up some flour and then proceed to make deliciously fresh bread. Then when I was 9, my Mom gave birth to my younger brother, Aaron, and while she was recovering I took over the weekly bread baking. Because you can't let a good thing like homemade bread stop even for a week.

And even at 9, I loved to bake.

One of my older brothers, who had decided to take up juggling, would come in the kitchen at precisely the moment the dough was coming out of the mixer. Bread dough stalker! He would grab three hunks of dough and proceed to juggle them. Until he inevitably would drop one on the floor two minutes later, of course. That kinda put a damper on him continuing the show.

To this day, it feels weird to bake bread without somebody trying to juggle the dough.

Hope y'all enjoyed that story. :)  

Anyhow, my point is that I've been making bread for a long time and this time around I wanted to make the dough be one that could be stored in the fridge for a week or two so I only needed to bake a loaf at a time. My mom's original recipe makes like 5 loaves!

Here's a smaller quantity, slightly modified version of that recipe,

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast and warm water.

Pour in oil and 4 tbsp. orange juice, or the juice from 1 orange. Whichever way makes you happy.

Blend in 2 cups of your whole wheat flour, saving the rest to use in a bit.

Add in honey, vital wheat gluten (or if you happen to have lecithin on hand, use that), salt and an egg.

Pretend the egg is in the picture. Sometimes I get a little hurried in my picture taking.

Add in the remaining flour. I happened to run out of whole wheat flour so for the last cup I used white. Don't tell anybody.
Chances are all the flour won't combine completely in your mixer.

So place it on a floured surface and knead the dough just until all the flour is incorporated. Like in the photo above.

Place the dough in a oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise until it's almost double in volume.

Punch it down. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and place it in your fridge for up to two weeks. Whenever you want to bake fresh bread, just pull it out, and pull off however much of the dough you want to use, and bake it up! This recipe makes about 2 loaves so you can make one right away and then make the next one whenever you're ready for it.

I love fresh whole wheat bread. It makes me happy. The texture is slightly different that the mass produced whole wheat breads you can buy in the store, it's a little more dense (but still fluffy and light!) and has a somewhat chewiness to it that I love.

My favorite thing to do with it is slice it up and toast it for breakfast. Actually, I think I'm going to go have some just like that.

Check back Monday when I'll show you two other things you can do with the dough. We're talking bagels and hamburger buns, people! :)

"Overnight" Whole Wheat Bread (printable recipe)
Yields about 2 loaves

2 pkgs. yeast
3 c. warm water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
4 tbsp. orange juice
1/2-3/4 c. honey, depending on how sweet you like your bread
1/8 c. vital wheat gluten, or lecithin
2 tsp. salt
1 egg
7 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (you can use a cup or two of white flour to make it a bit lighter, if you want)

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast and very warm (but not hot!) water. Allow the mixture to start bubbling. Pour in oil and juice. Then blend in 2 cups of your flour. Add in honey, vital wheat gluten, salt and egg. As you start blending those in, gradually add the rest of the flour. As you near the end of adding the flour, your mixer will likely no longer be able to continue working it all together. Take the dough and remaining flour out and place it on a floured surface. Work the remaining flour into the dough by folding the dough in half, pressing it out, folding in half, pressing out. Repeat that process until all the dough is incorporated.

Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise until almost double in volume. Punch the dough down, cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in your fridge until you're ready to bake with it. The dough can be stored this way for up to two weeks.

To make a loaf: Take about half of the dough, place it into an oiled loaf pan. Allow to rise until almost double in volume. Bake it in a oven preheated to 350 for 30-45 minutes or until it is golden brown and the top springs back when touched.


  1. I made your bread and it was an incredible hit. It had the texture of store bought (and I mean that in the most complimentary way) but the taste of great homemade bread. Xan said that we need this bread every day. Great recipe, Sarah.


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