Homebaked Whole Wheat Bread

For years I have told myself that I would start the age old tradition of baking bread. Instead I have dolled out copious amounts of cash for sub-par, over-priced and packed full of god-knows-what, ready made bread.  Recently I finally bit the bullet and bought a sack of whole wheat flour, some dried yeast sachets and embarked on the adventure that is baking bread. What a satisfying time I’ve had. Here’s a simple whole wheat bread recipe that you can experiment with, is packed full of goodness and has no hidden additives or preservatives.

IMGP4193Ingredients:

Makes 1 loaf (I tend to make two as it will go quick!)

  • 2 cups strong whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup pepitas (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
  • 1/3 cup linseed (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

Method:
Start by re-hydrating your dried yeast. To a mug add yeast and sugar and fill mug half with warm water (ensure the water is not boiling, as it will kill the yeast). Mix gently with a fork until well combined.

IMGP4147Set aside for 10 minutes until yeast has activated and frothed up.

IMGP4156While the yeast is activating, combine whole wheat and all purpose flour in a bowl.  Add salt and mix with a fork. Tip half of the mixture into a separate bowl and drizzle with honey.

IMGP4151Once the yeast is alive and foaming, add to the bowl and mix to combine.

IMGP4157Add seeds (if using) and mix. Here you could substitute the seeds for raisins and walnuts to make a fruit and nut loaf (I add a tablespoon of raw sugar too at this point to sweeten up the fruit and nut loaf).

IMGP4158Add the remainder of your flour mix to the dough and moisten with some more warm water. Add it a little at a time until a not-too sticky dough forms. Don’t dump all the water in at once as all flour reacts differently and therefore requires different quantities of water. Mix with a fork or hands until dough forms.

IMGP4159Transfer your dough to a floured surface. Knead and work the dough for at least 5 minutes to activate the gluten in the flour, adding more flour as needed. The dough should be a little sticky, don’t continually add flour whilst kneading as this will make for a denser loaf.

IMGP4164Once kneaded, form a ball and transfer to a greased bowl.

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Cover with greased cling film and leave in a warm spot until doubled in size. If your house is particularly cold, turn on the oven and sit the bowl in front of the window. Luckily it was 40°C (104° F) today, so I could just sit the dough outside to prove.

IMGP4173While the dough is proving, grease whatever bread tin you are using. Once the dough has doubled in size, return it to your work surface, this time with no flour and  beat back the dough 4 or 5 times, to remove most of the air. Form the dough into whatever shape you like or the shape of your cake tin. Place in the greased tin, cover with greased cling film and return to the warm place to double in size again.

IMGP4180At this point you can brush the top with a little water and dot some seeds on if you wish.

IMGP4183With the dough proving for a second time, preheat your oven to 240°C (460° F). When the dough has filled the bread tin and doubled in size – place in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 200°C (390° F).  I have taken to the habit of putting a small tray on the lower shelf of the oven and pouring some water in it just prior to baking the bread. This creates a steamy environment for the bread to bake in and helps create that perfect crust. Bake the bread for 30 – 40 minutes, until a nice crust has formed and flicking the bread produces a nice hollow sound. Remove the bread, allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then cool on a rack.

Scrumptious, healthy, whole wheat bread – ready for all to enjoy.

-alex

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