Here is a fool proof 100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipe that is very easy to do. It does require planning ahead, but once you figure that out, you will make bread all the time!
I calculated the cost for making this bread using high quality ingredients and total cost is $1.81 per loaf, much cheaper than what you pay at the market.
The day before you want to make bread, you will mix the ingredients to allow for 18-24 hours fermentation time.
Step 1: Equipment and Ingredients Needed
Whole wheat flour
Vital wheat gluten
5 quart bowl or container
Baking stone or tiles
Metal broiler pan
Step 2: Measure Dry Ingredients
Weigh all of your ingredients:
I listed the ingredients as weighed in grams, ounces and measured in cups. If you do not have a scale, you can measure the flour using a one cup measuring cup and scooping the flour into the cup with a spoon. Level off the top of the measuring cup with a knife and don't compact it.
Whole Wheat Flour 910 grams (32 ounces or 7.5 cups)
Vital wheat gluten 35 grams (1 1/4 ounces or 1/4 cup)
Yeast 5 grams (1 teaspoon)
Salt 20-25 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons)
Water, tap or filtered 850 grams (4 cups)
I keep my ingredients in the fridge, so I start out with cold ingredients. Warmer ingredients cuts your fermenting time a little.
Step 3: Mix Dry Ingredients
With a whisk or spoon, mix dry ingredients well.
Step 4: Stir in Water
Add the water slowly or all at once. Mix with spoon or spatula. Continue mixing until there are no longer dry spots. If after a few minutes you have flour that is not incorporating, add one or two tablespoons of water. You shouldn't need more than 2-3 tablespoons.
Step 5: Rest the Dough
Cover and allow the dough to rest 18-24 hours at room temperature. The dough should double in size.
I have also found that I can simply refrigerate the dough at this point. Refrigerating makes it easier to handle and gives better flavor.
Step 6: Doubled in Size
The dough should look something like this. Flattened at the top and full of bubbles.
If you cannot bake the bread at this point, you can refrigerate it, covered for up to 7 days.
If you refrigerate it, the day of baking, you will need to shape and let your bread raise 2 hours prior to baking.
Step 7: Divide and Shape Dough
Place the baking stone or tiles in the middle of the oven.
Place the broiler pan below the baking stone/tiles. You will add hot water to create steam for the bread. If you don't want crusty bread, you can skip this step.
Thirty minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, turn on your oven to 450 degrees. You can use your oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is reached (some ovens don't reach proper temperature).
Flour your surface well where you will divide your dough.
Flip your cookie sheet upside down. Place the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Dust the parchment paper with flour or cornmeal.
Pour and scrape out your dough to your floured surface. You don't want to overhandle your dough at this point.
With a knife, cut the dough in half. Wetting the blade of the knife prevents the dough from sticking.
Take each dough half and fold it over itself two or three times to make a square, like you are folding a towel on itself. Remember minimize handling. Place the dough on the floured parchment paper. (This should take 1-2 minutes)
Use some dishtowels to give the bread a boundary and prevent it from spreading sideways.
Allow to rise for 30 minutes (2-3 hours if using refrigerated dough) while your oven preheats.
Step 8: Slash and Bake
Set aside a cup of hot tap water.
After the dough has risen, take a wet knife, and in one motion, make a 1/4 inch slash on the dough.
Remove the dishtowels, open the oven door and slide your bread into the oven, parchment paper and all.
Pour the water into the broiler tray. Close the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes complete, turn down the temperature to 350 and bake 30 more minutes.
Step 9: Cool and Store.
Remove from oven. Place on a rack and cool. If you cut when warm, it will be slightly sticky and difficult to cut.
I store my bread in the fridge in plastic zip lock. I freeze my unused bread and defrost when my first loaf is almost gone.
Do I have to use warm water to activate the yeast?
No. Using cool water allows for a slower fermentation and better flavor.