Baking bread was what made me fall in love with cooking. After my first year of college I rented a house for the summer in Burlington, Vermont, with a gang of friends, and one of them taught me this very simple recipe, which I still use decades later. The magic of bread rising, the smell of bread baking, the taste of a slice of freshly baked bread with butter melting into it— it was incredible. I’d never experienced anything like it. Making bread really is magical: the simple alchemy of transforming flour, water, and yeast into a fragrant, great-tasting loaf. This is my basic whole wheat bread, one that I make over and over again, with consistently excellent results. I prefer using all whole wheat flour, but if you prefer a lighter loaf, use half bread flour and half whole wheat. The dough yields 2 loaves, so you can freeze one, or you might want to turn half of the dough into Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. Just use half the filling ingredients specified in that recipe, which is meant for 2 loaves.
Myra's 100% Whole Wheat Bread
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
- 1¼ cup nonfat milk, warmed (105° to 115°F)
- ¼ cup honey
- 5 to 6 cup whole wheat flour, plus extra for kneading
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp canola oil, for oiling the bowl
- Unsalted butter, for the pans
Place the yeast and sugar in a large bowl and add the warm water. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the mixture sit until it is foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the warm milk, honey, 4 cups of the flour, and salt to the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Gradually add more flour until the dough is too stiff to stir, and then transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead it, adding more flour as needed, until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl, add the dough, and roll it around so that it is coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
Gently punch down the dough to deflate it, and then cut it in half.
Butter two standard-size loaf pans (8½ x 4 inches). Form each piece of dough into a loaf and place them in the prepared pans. Cover the pans with a clean kitchen towel, set them in a warm, draft-free place, and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake until the loaves are golden brown and have pulled away from the sides of the pans, about 40 minutes. To test for doneness, turn the breads out of the loaf pans and tap the bottoms, listening for a hollow sound. If they seem soft or don’t sound hollow, bake them a little longer and test again.
Transfer the pans to a wire rack, and turn out the loaves. Let them cool on the rack for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 2 loaves.
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Excerpted from The Earthbound Cook Copyright 2010 by Myra Goodman. Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York All Rights Reserved