“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight” – M. F. K. Fisher
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – I’m not a bread person. In fact, I abhor eating bread very often. Oh yes, my taste buds have had a thorough stint of spoiling by my folks, with all the variety of breakfast fare that was being churned out at home. So much so, that I still haven’t gotten over it! That being said, I couldn’t quite sleep in peace till I cracked the perfect recipe for Whole Wheat Bread either. And so, I decided to take the plunge today. I’d be lying if I said I conjured up with this recipe all by myself. Much as
I’m not I wasnt that comfortable playing around with bread doughs yet, what started out as wanting to try DK’s Healthy Orange Whole Wheat Bread, ended up being something quite different, though the basic idea was the same. What made me change DK’s classic recipe you ask? It was the yeast, and the vital wheat gluten. DK had used rapid dry yeast, whereas I didn’t have that cos as far as I know, it’s not available here in India. And different yeasts work totally differently. Thankfully, I did know my bread-baking basics, so that’s what helped me sail through this one. Nonetheless, as I was making the bread – kneading it, proving it, baking it, I sent up a little prayer each time, hoping that it would indeed look like, and taste like a bread when it was done! Looks like my prayers were heard today. Since the Gods seem to be in a generous mood, maybe I should’ve asked for a lot more than just about the bread, but then, let me stop being greedy for now, and be content with such a wonderful loaf of bread. So go on and read the recipe while I enjoy my freshly baked bread with my soup…tonight’s dinner. What else would you expect me to eat now, when the bread is calling my name crying out my name loud and clear?
Whole Wheat Bread
Preparation Time: 2-3 hours
Baking Temperature: 220°C/425°F
Baking Duration: 20-30 minutes
Yields: 1 Pound of bread (standard-sized, weighing roughly 500g)
- Whole wheat flour (WWF) – 2 cups (plus more, for dusting)
- Wheat Bran – 1/4 cup (4 tbsps)
- Wheat Germ – 1/4 cup (4 tbsps)
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Brown Sugar – 2 tbsps
- Instant dry Yeast – 2 1/4 tsps
- Butter (softened) – 2 tbsps
- Orange juice – 3/4 to 1 cup (see notes)
- Luke-warm Water – 1/4 cup
- The amount of orange juice you will need may vary between 3/4 and 1 cup (or even more) depending on the quality of WWF you are using. The more fibrous the flour is, more the orange juice it will absorb. Use your judgment here and start with 1/2 cup. Add the remaining juice little by little, as required.
- While baking, if you feel the bread is browning too fast, cover loosely with aluminum foil and then bake (Do this only after the first 15 minutes of baking).
- You could brush with some milk or milk and oil mixture before baking to get a nice glaze.
- When still warm out of the oven, brush bread with melted butter to get a softer crust.
- Do not let the baked loaf cool for too long inside the loaf pan after you have removed it from the oven. The heat from the bread condenses on the sides and makes your bread soggy.
- The amount of yeast used in the recipe (2 1/4 tsps) is the same as 7.5g of yeast or ‘one envelope of yeast’ that you would see in recipes originating from countries abroad.
- Put the yeast and brown sugar in a small bowl.
- Add the lukewarm water to it, and let it sit till it starts bubbling away, about 5 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, put the whole wheat flour, wheat bran, wheat germ and salt onto your clean kitchen platform or into a fairly large and wide bowl. Stir well to incorporate.
- Make a well in the flour mixture. Stir the yeast mixture and pour it in the flour, along with the orange juice. If you’re working on your kitchen platform, make sure none of the yeast mixture runs out of your well, and mix it in.
- Combine the mixture to form a soft dough.
- Rub in the butter with your fingertips, and continue to knead the dough for another 5-10 minutes on the kitchen platform.
- If the dough feels very sticky, dust the platform with not more than 1-2 tbsps of WWF.
- Now, lightly dust another clean part of the platform and move your dough ball to over there. Cover with a big bowl and let it rest for a good half hour.
- While the dough is resting, grease a loaf-tin lightly with oil (use a pastry brush), and set aside.
- Once the dough has rested, pull it out from under the bowl and give it a good knock back. (Yeah, this is the part in bread-baking that I love, so I can take out my frustration on that poor ball of dough. You should do it too, its therapeutic! Go on, punch that dough hard. Dishum-dishum!).
- This time, don’t stick the ball of dough under that bowl. You will need to fold the sides of the dough. To do that, pat the ball of dough gently and spread and flatten it a wee bit. Little by little, roll inwards from one side (work your way starting away from you, and ending closer to you), while flattening the dough and removing the excess gas from the dough mixture. Press the rolled portion gently with your fingertips. Doing this ensures that there are no air bubbles in your dough. It is very imperative that you don’t miss this step since any air bubbles will give you a bread that wont look as beautiful as it should. It’ll have huge air bubbles in the form of random hollow spots, instead of a nice and spongy texture, once you’ve cut it into slices. Now, we wouldn’t want that, would we? (I know I should have taken a pic of this step to help you guys out, but my hands were so messy, I couldn’t dare touch the camera right then. Perhaps when I make it next time, I’ll take help and get a picture for you all).
- Once you have folded your dough, work gently and shape it to a size slightly smaller than your loaf pan.
- Drop it gently inside your loaf pan, and gently (yet again, yes) press down to the sides.
- You could make cuts on top of the dough with a fork/knife/pastry cutter. Whatever lines you fancy. I just gave mine 3 diagonal cuts, parallel to each other (Is this starting to sound like a Geometry class?).
- Cover the pan and let the dough prove till it doubles in size, in a dark area of your kitchen, preferably inside a dark kitchen cabinet. (I let mine prove for a good two hours).
- Bake at 220C/425F for 25 minutes, or till the top has browned lightly and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped (It took exactly 25 minutes in mine).
- Once done, remove from oven and let the tin cool on a wire-rack for 10 minutes. Upturn the loaf from the tin and let it cool on the wire-rack for a good amount of time before you can slice it.
- Once the loaf has fully cooled, slice the bread with a bread knife/serrated knife and enjoy it with some home-made jam, or with a comforting bowl of soup, like I did.