Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Basic hand-kneaded Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves, 16 slices each
Briony has been trying to get me to buy a second-hand bread maker for years, and I just haven't. Seriously, I like making bread by hand! I like feeling the dough and kneading it to perfection, and I guess it makes me feel connected with my grandmothers to do something I know they also did for their families. My favorite basic recipe is derived from the book that my Kitchen Aid Mixer came with. I altered the method a little (since I like to proof my dough) and add in a little Vital Wheat Gluten, which helps whole wheat loaves be more light and airy.

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar, divided (with sugar it is not "clean", you can use honey or sucanat instead)
  • 2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 4 1/2 tsp (or 2 packages) active dry yeast
  • 5 to 6 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
ONE: "Proofing" yeast means to activate before adding it to the flour. So, add the 1 Tbsp of sugar to hot water and stir to dissolve. Whisk in the yeast and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.

The yeast mixture before and after. Note how much it has puffed up.

TWO: Measure 4 cups of flour into the bowl of your stand mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid). Add the powdered milk and salt. Use the dough hook and turn your machine on to mix the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the yeast mixture while the dough hook is spinning and make certain you get all the bubbles that cling to the side. Add the oil.

THREE: Allow the mixer to bring the dough together until all the flour has been incorporated. You may have to scrape the bowl a time or two and you may have to increase the speed a bit if the motor sounds like it's struggling. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour half a cup at a time. The dough should start to form a ball and the sides of the bowl should be relatively clean.

FOUR: Finish the kneading by hand. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes. If the dough is sticking to your work surface, add another tablespoon or so of flour. Be careful to not add too much flour as this can dry out your dough. Remember that it is okay if the dough is sticky, you just don't want it to stick!

On the left is the dough just as I tipped it out of the bowl, and the right is
after I kneaded it for 8 minutes. Note how there isn't any flour
on my work surface after I kneaded.

FIVE: Let the dough rest while you wash your bowl, dry it well and grease it. Place the dough in the prepared bowl and cover it with a clean towel. Let it rise in a warm spot (the top of your running clothes dryer is a great location!). Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
The dough before and after the 60 minute rise.

SIX: During the last few minutes that the dough is rising and prepare your loaf pans by greasing them well. (Don't tell Briony but I started using shortening a while ago and I haven't had a loaf stick since. For me, it works better than olive oil spray, butter, parchment paper or any other thing I've tried. Briony would use coconut oil.)

SEVEN: Turn the dough out of the bowl and flatten it a bit to push out some of the air bubbles. Knead it for about 30 seconds and then shape it into a loaf. Drop the dough into your prepared loaf pan and let it sit for a few minutes. This short rest will allow the dough to relax so you can manipulate better. Push the dough down so it is flat and the edges touch the edges of the pan. Let the dough rise again for 45 minutes (or up to an hour if you need). During the last few minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

On the left is the shaped dough, and on the right you can see
I flattened it and pushed it towards the edges of the pan.

After the second rise

EIGHT: Bake the loaves for 30 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and have it come out without any dough bits on it. Let the loaves rest in the pan for a few minutes and then remove them from the pans and let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

Posted by Barb! :)


Per slice - 126 Calories (23 Calories from Fat), 2.5g Fat, 1mg Cholesterol, 172 mg Sodium, 21.5g Total Carbohydrates, 1g Dietary Fiber, 5g Sugars, 4g Protein, 0% DV Vitamin A, 0% DV Vitamin C, 6% DV Calcium, 6% DV Iron



  1. Hi Briony/Barb! I just made this recipe for the first time and have a couple of questions. First, if I wanted to use honey, at what point would I add it in? After the dry ingredients mix, but before adding the yeast? I used honey to proof my yeast, but then wasn't sure when to add the rest to the batter, so I just used sucanat instead. Also, my loaves didn't come out very high. They'd make a sandwich for my 2-year-old, but my husband won't be using it. I split the dough into two loaves - would it have been better to have just made one loaf? I saw Barb mentioned using gluten in her commentary, but it wasn't mentioned in the recipe. Would that help, and if so, at what point would I add it? This is the first time I've ever made bread and I don't have a breadmaker, so I'm winging it here. :) Thanks ladies!

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