There are about a million reasons why I love this recipe. The directions are clear. You can't mess this up. The bread is so tasty and good for you. The dough is fun to work with- not a sticky mess. The bread is moist and sticks together- you can actually slice it thin and it will work with you. And despite the length of the recipe, it's actually not at all time-intensive like other yeast breads. Oh... it's just perfect.
makes two 1-pound loaves
1 cup (4.25 oz) coarse whole-wheat flour or other coarsely ground whole grains (oats, corn, barley, rye)
3/4 cup (6 oz) water, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) high protein whole-wheat flour
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
3/4 cup (6 oz) water, at room temperature
2 cups high protein whole-wheat flour
1 1/3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant yeast
2 T honey
1 T vegetable oil (optional)
1 large egg, slightly beaten (optional)
2 T sesame seeds, poppy seeds, quick oats, or what bran for garnish (optional)
Note: The use of oil and/or egg is offered as an option to tenderize the bread. If you use either of them, you will need to add additional flour during the final mixing. Let the dough determine how much flour to add, as you knead it to a firm, slightly tacky consistency. Another way to tenderize the dough is to use milk or buttermilk instead of water when making the poolish.
1. The day before makeing the bread, make the soaker and the poolish. For the soaker, mix together to coarse whole-wheat flour and the water in a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave it at room temperature until the next day. For the poolish, mix together to whole-wheat flour and yeast, then stir in the water to make a thick paste. Sir only until all the four is hydrated, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours, or until it just begins to bubble. Then put it in the refrigerator overnight.
2. The next day remove the poolish from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough to take off the chill. In a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), stir together the whole-wheat flour, salt, and yeast. Then add the poolish and the soaker, as well as the honey, oil, and egg. Stir with a large metal spoon (or mix on low speed for about 1 minute with the paddle attachment) until the dough forms a ball, adding more water or flour if needed.
3. Sprinlkle whole-wheat flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed iwth the dough hook). Add flour if necessary and knead until the dough forms a firt, supple dough. This will take 10 to 15 minutes by hand, slightly less by machine. The dough should be tacky but not sticky. it should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a large bowl and ransfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
4. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
5. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (they should weigh about 18 oz each). Shape them into sandwich loaves, as shown here. Lightly oil two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans. Mist the tops with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
6. Proof at room temperature for about 90 minutes, or until the dough nearly doubles in size and is cresting above the lip of the pans.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack in the middle of the the oven. Just before baking you may choose to garnish the loaves by misting the tops with water and sprinkling sesame seeds.
8. Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, then rotate them 180 degrees, if necessary, for even backing. (Mine is usually done after 30 minutes... so I recommend checking now to see if it is done.) Continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes longer. The finished bread whould register between 185 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit at the center and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. The loaves should be golden brown all around and firm on the sides as well as on the top and bottom. If they are soft and squishy on the sides, return them to the pans and continue baking until done.
9. When the loaves have finished baking, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.