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Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat Bread-1-22Most of us try to eat healthier at some level. Since I eat so much bread, I knew the smart thing to do was use whole wheat flour instead of white flour at least some of the time:). Who am I kidding? I still love my fluffy white bread! Every now and then I get a hankering for some dark bread, and I especially love Russian Black bread. I wanted to have a whole wheat bread recipe with just a few basic ingredients.

I’ve tried numerous recipes, and usually the bread is on the tougher side unless you add just a small amount of whole wheat while the bulk of the recipe is white flour. Well, what’s the point?

Ever since I made America’s Test Kitchen version of Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, I knew this recipe was the one for me. They use a very interesting technique of soaking the whole wheat overnight before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients and this makes the whole wheat much softer. That’s the reason this bread turns out just as soft as regular white bread, even though there are 3 whole cups of whole wheat flour and only 2 of white bread flour. The addition of wheat germ gives the bread really great flavor too.

I’ve gotten multiple questions from you guys about adding some whole wheat flour to my other bread recipes, so here’s the perfect recipe for you. No need to make changes and experiment – America’s Test Kitchen has done that for us. All we have to do is make the bread and then cut ourselves a slice of warm bread and spread it with butter. Sort of beats the point of trying to get healthy, but whatever. It’s so good I can’t resist. I’ll eat the second slice with a bowl of soup, so that should be better, right? 

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

Biga:

2 cups bread flour

1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees Fahrenheit)

1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

Soaker:

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

2 cups milk

Dough:

1/4 cup honey

4 teaspoons table salt

2 Tablespoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

6 Tablespoons butter, softened

2 Tablespoons oil

bread flour for work surface

Instructions:

Whole Wheat Bread-3I usually make the biga and the soaker the night before I plan to make the bread. It takes only a few minutes and it’s ready to go the next morning.

Biga:

In a large bowl, mix the bread flour, water and yeast. I use a large wooden spoon. Cover it with plastic wrap or a towel and let it stand at room temperature for 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Overnight is perfect.Whole Wheat Bread-1-24

Whole Wheat Bread-5

Soaker:

In another bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, wheat germ and milk. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator, overnight or for 8-24 hours.Whole Wheat Bread-2

Wheat germ is the part of the wheat kernel that germinates and and turns into a plant. Whole Wheat Bread-4It is removed when white flour is refined. This tiny part of the wheat kernel is really nutritious and is packed with protein and lots of vitamins – vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, thiamin and phosphorus. Not only is it really good for you, but it adds so much flavor and texture to this bread. I buy wheat germ in the baking aisle of my local grocery store, and I’m sure most specialty food stores have it too. Since I know someone will ask – No, I haven’t tried making this bread without the wheat germ. I don’t know how it will turn out without it. I love how it tastes with it, so I never tried leaving it out.

Making the Bread:

After at least 8 hours, tear the bread soaker that was in the refrigerator into about 1 inch pieces and put it into a large bowl of a powerful stand mixer. Tearing it into pieces will help to incorporate it better, more easily and evenly into the bread dough.

Whole Wheat Bread-6Add the biga and the rest of the dough ingredients. Whole Wheat Bread-7With a dough hook attachment, mix the bread, starting on low speed and gradually increasing the speed until the dough is evenly mixed.

Whole Wheat Bread-8Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for about 45 min.

Whole Wheat Bread-9At this point, punch the dough down and mix the dough by taking the dough from the bottom and folding it over the top from all four sides. Cover and let it rise for another 45 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 parts.

On a floured surface, knead each half of dough for a few minutes, until the dough is elastic. Pat each half of dough into a rectangle and starting from the short side, roll it tightly into a loaf.

Whole Wheat Bread-10

Whole Wheat Bread-11Place each loaf into a greased bread pan. Whole Wheat Bread-12Cover lightly and set aside to rise until the bread is slightly above the edge of the bread pan, about an hour to an hour and a half.

Whole Wheat Bread-13Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When the bread has risen, place the bread pans into the preheated oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. You can check for doneness with an instant read thermometer, which should be 200 degrees Fahrenheit in the center.

Cool the bread in the bread pans for 5 minutes and then take them out of the bread pans and onto a cooling rack.

Whole Wheat Bread-1-20I usually freeze one loaf, so that it stays fresh while we eat the other loaf. To defrost it, simply take it out of the freezer and place the frozen bread on a kitchen towel and let it thaw. It will taste just as fresh.Whole Wheat Bread-1-22

Whole Wheat Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Miscellaneous
Serves: 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • Biga:
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • Soaker:
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • 2 cups milk
  • Dough:
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 4 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 Tablespoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • bread flour for work surface
Instructions
  1. I usually make the biga and the soaker the night before I plan to make the bread. It takes only a few minutes and it's ready to go the next morning.
  2. Biga:
  3. In a large bowl, mix the bread flour, water and yeast. I use a large wooden spoon. Cover it with plastic wrap or a towel and let it stand at room temperature for 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Overnight is perfect.
  4. Soaker:
  5. In another bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, wheat germ and milk. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator, overnight or for 8-24 hours.
  6. Making the Bread:
  7. After at least 8 hours, tear the bread soaker that was in the refrigerator into about 1 inch pieces and put it into a large bowl of a powerful stand mixer. Tearing it into pieces will help to incorporate it better, more easily and evenly into the bread dough.
  8. Add the biga and the rest of the dough ingredients. With a dough hook attachment, mix the bread, starting on low speed and gradually increasing the speed until the dough is evenly mixed.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for about 45 min.
  10. At this point, punch the dough down and mix the dough by taking the dough from the bottom and folding it over the top from all four sides. Cover and let it rise for another 45 minutes.
  11. Divide the dough into 2 parts.
  12. On a floured surface, knead each half of dough for a few minutes, until the dough is elastic. Pat each half of dough into a rectangle and starting from the short side, roll it tightly into a loaf.
  13. Place each loaf into a greased bread pan. Cover lightly and set aside to rise until the bread is slightly above the edge of the bread pan, about an hour to an hour and a half.
  14. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When the bread has risen, place the bread pans into the preheated oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
  15. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. You can check for doneness with an instant read thermometer, which should be 200 degrees Fahrenheit in the center.
  16. Cool the bread in the bread pans for 5 minutes and then take them out of the bread pans and onto a cooling rack.
  17. I usually freeze one loaf, so that it stays fresh while we eat the other loaf. To defrost it, simply take it out of the freezer and place the frozen bread on a kitchen towel and let it thaw. It will taste just as fresh.
Notes
Wheat germ is the part of the wheat kernel that germinates and and turns into a plant. It is removed when white flour is refined. This tiny part of the wheat kernel is really nutritious and is packed with protein and lots of vitamins - vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, thiamin and phosphorus. Not only is it really good for you, but it adds so much flavor and texture to this bread. I buy wheat germ in the baking aisle of my local grocery store, and I'm sure most specialty food stores have it too. Since I know someone will ask - No, I haven't tried making this bread without the wheat germ. I don't know how it will turn out without it. I love how it tastes with it, so I never tried leaving it out.

20 Comments

  • Theresa

    This looks amazing! I have been wanting to try to make bread instead of buying it, so I know what is in it and the peace of mind of knowing it is GMO-Free, chemical and preservative-free! VERY important in this day and time! I am also going to try this as a cinnamon ,raisin ,walnut bread. I am also interested in natural yeast baking. as I have read that a lot of allergies are actually from the commercial yeasts used in bread etc. Thanks, for sharing.

  • Svetlana

    Hi, Olga! I am also from Belarus. I love to read your blog. Now about flour: have you heard about White Whole Wheat Flour! It is hard WHITE whole wheat flour with lighter color and milder flavor then regular whole -grain flour.

  • Anna D Kart

    This doesn’t sound too complicated although there are many parts. I love that it can be made without kneading (I hate that).
    Thank you for sharing – now I’m itching to make one

  • Tanya

    Olya, I want to thank you for your time and for posting this recipe. I’ve been experimenting in incorporating WW flour into my baking and like you said the finished product is tasteless and tough. I will absolutely try soaking WW flour overnight -like you’ve suggested and I can’t wait to make and taste this bread. There is something so satisfying in waiting to try a piece of a homemade bread that just came out of the oven! Thank you again for all of your hard work!

    • olgak7

      Yes, I can’t agree enough, Tanya. Making homemade bread makes me feel like such a good little housewife:). The smell of baking bread should be made into perfume, I love how inviting it makes the home feel.

    • olgak7

      I have no idea, Mariya. I never tried it that way.
      First of all, you will have to halve the recipe, because this makes 2 loaves of bread. Let me know if you try it.

  • Marta

    Wow, it turned out really good. The bread is so soft and airy you would never guess it’s made with ww flour. I did make some changes: replaced wheat germ with approximately 1/4 cup ww flour (simply didn’t have it), used 1 tbsp yeast (2 tbsps seemed way too much for the amount of flour used), 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tsps salt. The dough is very easy to work with, and I really like the idea of soaking the flour. I used my bread machine as a mixer (I always do), and then followed your instructions. Thanks for sharing.

  • Vera

    Made this bread today. It is so unbelievably good. It is simple to make and is soft and moist, unlike most whole wheat breads. Thank you Olga for sharing this recipe with us.

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