May 2, 2011

Whole Wheat Dilema

Why, oh why is it so hard to make good whole wheat bread?! I make a killer half-whole-wheat, half-white bread. No that's not every other slice :-) it's 1 1/2 cups of each flour. The result is a light textured, moist bread. I can add currants, nuts, throw in a banana and it still comes out great. But when I try to go with all whole wheat flour, my loaf always collapses and turns out crumbly; it won't hold up in a sandwich.

I've tried variations on the theme. Adding rolled oats, using milk instead of water, using oil instead of butter, eggs, no eggs - but nothing seems to work. The most recent attempt included 1 cup milk, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 cups whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoons yeast and 1/2 tablespoon vital gluten. On the second rise the loaf looked promising and smelled wonderful. In to the oven it went. About 15 minutes before it was done cooking it fell. The bread is still delicious and great as toast (with a fried egg on top of course).

So, I am on the search for the perfect whole wheat bread recipe. Here are the rules: 1) no white flour, 2) must not fall during baking, and 3) make a mean ham and cheese sandwich. Bonus points if the recipe uses honey instead of sugar and includes nuts or seeds. Anyone out there up for the challenge? Anyone?


Homemade Alaska said...

I took me a long time to make a good whole wheat bread, and it still doesn't make a perfect sandwich, but close. Some things that improved my bread are fresh ground flour, using white wheat berries, I use prairie gold, using potato water in place of regular water helps a lot (or add potato flakes). For falling bread watch either over rising or it may be too wet.

Mix together 2 1/4 cup warm potato water, 3 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup honey and 1 tablespoon of yeast. Mix together and let sit to sponge for 20 minutes (although I think 30-40 works better). Add a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of dough enhancer. Add enough flour until it is a sticky but kneadable dough, add any seeds or nuts you wish, I generally don't. knead until a piece will stretch like bubble gum.

Divide into 2 loaves, place in greased pans and let rise until it is coming over the pan edge a little, and when poked leaves a little dent. (you don't need to raise it twice). Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. When done remove from oven and cover with a dish towel to cool for 5-10 minutes. While still warm wrap in plastic wrap (I hate the stuff, but it really makes the bread stay soft for sandwiches). Slice when cool, I use an electric knife to slice mine.

It's not perfect, but after a lot of practice mine has improved a lot. Good luck!

Mindy said...

Thanks for the ideas! I'm going to try your recipe over the weekend and will let you know how it works. It sounds decilious! One question - when you say "dough enhancer", what do you use? Thanks again.

Homemade Alaska said...

It's called Dough Enhancer by Kitchen Resource. I bought it from a friends co-op up here, but I see the same brand at Amazon. Maybe it would be available somewhere local for you. It says it makes fluffier baked goods, enhances flavor, and increased dough strength and shelf life. I'm not sure it really makes a big difference, but I always use it. Here is a recipe I found for one online, but I've never tried it.

Mindy said...

Thanks - I'll let you know how it comes out.