How to Make Perfect Whole Wheat Bread
Make That Whole Wheat Rise!
Make home-ground whole wheat bread that rises perfectly in a bread machine! One of the most frustrating problems in baking is trying to get bread made from all whole wheat flour to rise well in a bread machine.
This recipe and instructions will help you solve that problem. You can also use these ideas to adjust your recipes for hand-kneaded bread.
Home-ground whole wheat flour is heavier and coarser than white flour from the store. For years, when I tried it alone in a regular bread recipe I got a sad, stubby, uneven, dense loaf, that wouldn't slice nicely and didn't have a moist crumb. Even good quality store-bought whole wheat flour doesn't rise as well as white flour.
After many experiments, I developed a recipe that rises beautifully to yield a tall, light two-pound loaf that slices without crumbling, and is just moist and chewy enough. Each slice is big enough to be cut in half to make a satisfying sandwich.
After the recipe, I'll explain each point that differs from the usual bread machine recipes. You can incorporate these ideas into other whole grain recipes, to improve your results.
[All photos by Valerie Proctor Davis]
- 1 egg
- Water added to egg to make 1 7/8 cups (halfway between the lines for 1 3/4 and 2 cups)
- 4 Tbsp brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp plain yogurt
- 2 tsp salt
- 5 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- Crack egg into a measuring cup.
- Add water to the egg to make 1 7/8 cups.
- Beat the egg in the water.
- Pour water into bread machine pan.
- Add brown sugar, salt, and yogurt.
- Add flour; make depression in top of pile.
- Pour yeast into depression.
- Begin Wheat cycle.
- When kneading starts, test and adjust dough ball as explained below.
- Remove promptly when baking ends. Let cool before slicing.
My Favorite Bread Machine
- The egg is a brown one from my backyard chickens, but you can use a store-bought one!
- Use any dry active yeast. You'll find it in small packets at the grocery store. As you start to bake more, you can save money by buying it in jars or large freeze-dried bricks. Store yeast in the freezer, sealed up well.
- Salt helps control the yeast. If you need more rise, experiment with reducing the salt or leaving it out.
- The yogurt in this recipe is replacing both butter and powdered milk. Yogurt helps hold moisture, and the taste blends well with the whole wheat. Using it instead of fat or oil seems to improve the rise.
- This is a bit more sugar than plain bread recipes usually use. The extra sugar helps the yeast grow better, and brown sugar tastes good in whole wheat. Once I also added two tablespoons of molasses, and got a spectacular loaf with a beautiful puffy chef's-hat top. Only problem was, it didn't fit in the bread slicer!
- I ground the wheat myself in my Nutrimill. It's hard red winter wheat, which naturally has more gluten than other flours. You can get hard white wheat, too. I buy mine in bulk from a local organic grocery, which saves on shipping fees.
The EggClick thumbnail to view full-size
The egg helps add moisture and texture, as well as additional protein. If you don't eat yolks, substitute two egg whites.
I include the egg in the water measurement to avoid getting the dough too wet. If your dough is coming out much too wet, you could also add the yogurt to the water measurement, as well as any other liquid ingredient, such as molasses.
- Crack the egg into a large measuring cup.
- Add water to make 1 7/8 cups. (That will be halfway between 1 3/4 and 2 cups - it isn't clear in the picture, as the counter was a bit uneven.)
- Break the yolk with a fork, then beat the egg into the water.
Add IngredientsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Your main goal when filing the bread machine pan is to keep the yeast separate from salt and liquids until the kneading cycle starts.
- Add the liquid ingredients, sugar, and salt.
- Add the flour. Make a hole in the top of the flour mound.
- Pour the yeast into the hole.
My Favorite Grain Mill
Test and AdjustClick thumbnail to view full-size
You'll need to test your dough ball as the kneading cycle starts, to make sure you have the right balance of wet and dry ingredients. This balance can be affected by the weather, your water quality, and your grainmill settings. Also, freshly ground flour is light and fluffy, but settles in storage.
- Let the kneading cycle run for a minute of so, then open the lid and look at the dough ball. The one in the picture above is too wet - slumped down flat and glistening - and needs more flour.
- Add flour a tablespoon at a time, letting the machine knead it in. If the dough is dry, add water the same way.
- The next picture shows a good dough ball, round and slightly sticky. You should be able to feel stickiness, but not have any come off onto your finger.
- After a few minutes more kneading, the dough is smooth and elastic, and still slightly sticky.
- Don't open the machine again while it's rising and baking. The change in temperature can affect the rise.
© 2013 Valerie Proctor Davis