Introduction: Hand Made Whole Wheat Bread

I'm on this low sugar diet that requires me to eat only whole wheat, whole grain, no simple sugar foods. This has proven to be quite the task in the united sugars of america. But never fear - it becomes easier once you start making your own food, so that's what I started doing. Two common problems with whole wheat breads - the recipes are not always 100% whole wheat flour, and the dough rises a lot less so the bread is heavier. In this recipe the 1st problem is solved after some trial and error with the recipe, but I like my breads heavy. I do have a fluffier bread but it will have to wait for the next instructable :)

Step 1: Find Your Ingredients

2/3 cup water (room temperature)

1.5 teaspoons dry yeasts (I forgot to put them in the picture, sorry)

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt (not iodized)

1 teaspoon real maple

2 tablespoon olive oil

some notes-

1. I used filtered water but if you like the taste of your tap water it is not a requirement, just a preference.

2. iodized salt contains sugar (it hides in the most unexpected places!)

3. maple is a good alternative for the sugars needed in a lot of recipes, but it is still a sugar so don't be fooled!

4. If you don't like olive oil you can change it to most vegetable oils but it is less tasty in my opinion. also pay attention to the type of olive oil you're using, since some of them have very distinctive tastes.

Step 2: Preparing the Dough

To a medium bowl pour the water and add the yeast. Sift the flour if you can - as I mentioned, whole wheat breads tend to be heavy so it helps a little. The flour should cover everything so it will create a barrier between the yeasts and the other ingredients. On top of the flour add the salt, maple and olive oil (see the picture).

Since I don't have a standing mixer, I like to start mixing with a spoon until you can call it a mixture, and then start kneading with my hands. Don't forget to wash your hands before touching the dough! once the ingredients are incorporated, I usually knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, until I start feeling the resistance, which indicates the formation of the gluten network.Sometimes it is easier to take the dough out of the bowl and knead on a surface. Do what feels more comfortable.

Now that the dough is ready, it is time to let it rest and rise. return the dough to the bowl and lightly cover it with cling wrap or a damp towel. I like using cling wrap so I can see the dough without changing its environment (a towel is not see through...). Allow the dough to double its size, preferably in a warm place, for instance, near the stove where you were coincidentally cooking Chili con Carne :)

Step 3: Shaping Your Loaf

I put a picture of before and after so you can see that I let my dough to rise.

Now that the dough had risen, knead it a little bit and shape into a ball. Put the ball on the pan (it's better to cover the pan with a baking sheet) and stretch it with your hands to an oblong loafy shape.

Step 4: Second Rise

Turn on the oven on 400 F. Ovens usually take a while to heat up and stabilize...

As I mentioned again and again, whole wheat bread are heavy, so this is an important step. After shaping the loaf, I allow it to rise again for about 30 minutes. Two ways to keep the loaf from drying: cover it with a moist towel (I don't like this method since sometimes the towel sticks to the dough) or rubbing the loaf with water and letting it rest.

As you can see I covered the loaf with wheat bran (this is optional, you can also use oats, coarse corn flour, poppy seeds... use your imagination) which helps to see the difference 30 minutes make.

Step 5: Baking

The oven should be at the desired 400 F by now.

Two tips for the baking step:

1. Just before you put the loaf in the oven, use a knife to make cuts on the top part so the humidity from inside the dough will not break it (it usually works, but not foolproof)

2. We want the bread to have a nice crust so we need humidity in the oven. I throw a few ice cubes to the bottom of the stove with the bread (you can see them at the bottom of the picture).

Bake 10 minutes in 400 F, then lower the temperature to 360 F and bake for 35-45 minutes more. The amount of time depends on many factors including your oven, the shape of the loaf, the temperature and humidity that day and so on, so it best to check. The way to know is to knock on the bottom of the loaf (careful it's hot) and listen for that hollow sound. This indicates the bread is ready!

Step 6: Yay! Bread!

This is the hardest part, since the whole house is now filled with freshly baked bread smell, but DON'T BE TEMPTED! Wait for the loaf to cool a bit before you cut, otherwise it will fall apart when you slice it and this will make you very sad.

bonus tip: if you plan on freezing the bread - totally doable, just make sure to pre-slice it since the heaviness makes it harder to slice frozen...