100% Whole Wheat Bread

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog you know that I enjoy making bread...and that I'm an open advocate of incorporating homemade bread into you're everyday life...it is not difficult or laborious (it's quite the opposite, actually...it's rewarding). I've also been attempting to make healthier breads these last few years (whole grains and whole wheat) but at the same time keep the integrity of an artisan loaf (meaning not one that is so heavy you could use it as a brick). Click here to see a recipe for a previous post on Ezekiel Bread.

One key method I learned, a pivotal point really, or a new paradigm you might say, was when I read Peter Reinhart's book, Whole Grained Breads, and how he soaks whole wheat flour for a few hours (or overnight) to soften it. This method was without doubt (to me) ground breaking. By soaking the flour overnight the flour becomes soft and workable...and it produces a light loaf that is comprised entirely of whole wheat flour.

I've created a simplified variation, and it goes something like this: Soak some of the flour with water, yeast, and honey to make a starter (or poolish), and in another bowl soak the bulk of the flour with the other ingredients. In a few hours, or the next day, mix the two bowls together and knead them, let it rise, and bake it. The outcome is a delicious and wholesome bread. It makes incredible sandwiches and toast, and it tastes so healthy you'll just want to eat it spread with butter or dipped in olive oil. I made a large batch at work recently (9 loaves); here it is in pictures (click here to see an earlier post I wrote on 100% whole wheat bread). Following the pictures is a smaller recipe that make two loaves.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves

6 cups whole wheat flour, divided

2 1/4 cups water, divided

1 cup plain yogurt

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey

3 teaspoons instant yeast, divided

Separate the ingredients in two bowls using this ratio: In one bowl combine 4 cups of flour, 1 1/4 cups water, along with all of the yogurt and salt. Stir it just until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. In a second bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups flour and 1 cup water with the olive oil, honey, and 2 teaspoons of yeast. Stir it just until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Allow the bowls to rest for at least an hour, but up to 12.

Add the remaining teaspoon yeast and the contents of both bowls to an upright electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for one hour.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, cut it into two pieces, gently shape it into loaves, and place the loaves into oiled loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat an oven to 400F.

Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on. Remove the bread from their pans and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.