24-Hour 100% Whole Wheat Bread

As is often the case I've been experimenting with different recipes for healthy bread...in this case 100% whole wheat. I'm convinced (or at least hoping) I'll eventually get the recipe I want. But before I get into the latest experiment I should answer a couple questions asked by readers recently albeit on earlier posts.

John in NH (commented here) wanted to know if bread could be kneaded using the beater attachment with a hand mixer. Seems he's a college student and can't afford a stand mixer with a dough hook. John, I feel your pain. For years I kneaded bread by hand, and this is truly a great way to go if you do not have a stand mixer with a dough hook. You'll get a workout, but it ca be done. This is how our ancestors did it up until a generation or so ago. Beaters will not mix dough; they are meant for beating ingredients, which is entirely different that kneading. You'd most likely break your hand mixer.

Booklover (commented here) wanted to know if I have a large batch recipe for Ezekiel bread. The answer is yes and no. Yes I have one, but  no it's not written down; it's in my head. Hopefully I'll eventually compile the complete bread booklet that is floating around in my head before my internal hard drive crashes. If I do, the booklet will be available through this blog. In the meantime the recipe that is posted can be multiplied. The variables are how you measure the flour. Because the recipe is in volume (cups) rather than weight (ounces) each person's measurements vary. For this reason you may have to adjust the dough's hydration (consistency). I hope this helps.

The following recipe is really a variation on a theme. It's a 100% whole wheat bread, but this time instead of using water in the recipe I used 2% milk. I used the same method as usual in that I soaked flour to soften the grain but this time I allowed it to ferment overnight and into much of the next day. Anyhow, here's the recipe in pictures with a few comments.

I started by soaking the flour in two separate containers; 1/3 of it with yeast, 2/3 without yeast. Both of these, I suppose could constitute being called a biga, or an Italian version of a firm pre-ferment.

 After the dough soaked/fermented for a couple hours at room temperature I combined them and added honey, olive oil, and kosher salt. Then I mixed the dough.

The crucial thing with any bread dough is kneading. When you knead dough you are essentially stretching and aligning the proteins (gluten) in the flour. These cling to one another and form long strands and give the dough it's muscle, if you will. For this reason a dough that is high in fat, like many pastries, is called a "short dough," or a dough with short protein (gluten) strands. Anyhow, a simple way to check to see if you have kneaded the dough long enough is the "windowpane test." This is a very simple test and so called because the dough should stretch as thin as a windowpane (or thinner) without tearing.

Next I placed the dough in a lightly oiled rising bucket in my teeny refrigerator until morning.

By morning the dough had doubled in size, but was of course refrigerator-cold. I cut it into tow pieces, shaped it and placed it in two loaf pans. After covering it with plastic wrap I went about my daily business and checked on it sporadically. At room temperature it took about 3 hours to rise.

After preheating an oven to 400F I baked it for about 1/2 hour. The hous was filled with the distinctive aroma that only whole wheat bread can prove...it was warm, sweet, nutty, but most of all delicious.