Friday, January 21, 2011

Honey Whole Wheat Bread Tutorial

DO NOT be afraid of making your own bread!!! Most people think it’s hard but really…it’s not at all! It takes a long time but that’s because most of the time is spent waiting for the bread to rise. I had a friend call and ask for ‘tips’ to making homemade bread so I figured I’d do better and just make a tutorial. I make this bread recipe almost every other week and LOVE it! It will make 4 loaves. I figure that if I’m going to spend all the time making it, I might as well bake a lot!  We hardly ever buy bread anymore.
I love to browse craft and cooking tutorials but I’ve never done one myself. I’m laughing that I’m doing one now. Most tutorials I’ve seen have a nice clean kitchen and perfectly manicured fingernails. They usually have great photos and apologize if the lighting isn’t just perfect. This is NOT that kind of tutorial! Let’s face it. Your kitchen will be a bit of a mess when you’re done and you’ll have bread dough under your nails. I wasn’t about to make this an all day process just to make sure my photos had great lighting. Hopefully with these ‘flaws’ you’ll still end up with some YUMMY bread you will love!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
Yields 4 loaves
1 tsp. sugar
2 yeast packets (OR 4 ½ tsp. OR 2 short Tbs.)
4 Tbs. warm water
4 cups milk
1 c. dry milk
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. honey
2 tsp. salt
6 cups whole wheat flour
5-6 cups all purpose flour (I never measure)
3 Tbs. gluten flour (optional but much better if used)

Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water and set aside. I measure 2 Tbs. of yeast but don’t completely fill the measuring spoon. Let stand for about 5-10 minutes until proofed. A great tutorial about proofing yeast can be found HERE.
Combine dry milk, oil, honey and salt in medium saucepan and stir together. I always add the oil and then use the same measuring cup for the honey so the honey just slides right out instead of being a sticky mess. Add milk and warm over medium heat. Stir with whisk until completely dissolved and mixture is lukewarm. If you overheat make sure you allow it to cool down to room temperature before adding in yeast mixture. It can kill the yeast if it’s too hot. (Think of baby bathwater warm.)
Stir in proofed yeast mixture and stir together. Add the gluten flour. This is optional but makes your bread have a more spongy texture. You can find this near the flour at the grocery store or even in the bulk section at some stores. C’mon…there’s a picture of a grandma on it so it HAS to make the bread better, right? Haha!
Add your whole wheat flour until mixture starts to come together and is about the consistency of brownie batter. (If you have a smaller KitchenAid I suggest halving the mixture here and doing the rest of the steps with each half. This will avoid the dough crawling up your dough hook and getting all over the gears. I speak from experience!)
Slowly add white flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. I always poke it to see how sticky it is. If a lot of dough sticks to your finger (like in the bottom left picture above) then you need to add more flour. Only add a tablespoon or two at a time when you think you’re getting close. Adding too much flour will make your bread tough. When the dough is ready it will pull mostly off your finger when you poke it. (like the bottom right picture above)

Scrape dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover to rise until doubled in size. I usually set my timer for 60 minutes and it seems to be just about right. (And it helps me not to forget it and let it rise too much…I again speak from experience.)  While you're waiting you clean the flour mess you made (because I bet you have one) and you can wash the sink full of dirty dishes you now have.
Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly greased surface and divide into four equal parts. I just eyeball it but if you want to get really technical like my mother in-law you can buy a scale and weigh them.
Roll out each part into a long rectangle. I’d guess its about six-ish inches wide. If it starts to get wider just squish it in with the sides of your hands.  Tightly roll the dough into a loaf. Bubbles will make for air pockets inside your bread. After the loaf is rolled I usually slap it a few times because I figure it helps get out any air. I don’t know if it really does but it makes me feel better.  I guess you can take a little aggression out if you really need to.

Place the loaves SEAM DOWN into lightly greased loaf pans. I love my non-stick bread pans. I hate my glass loaf pan because it ALWAYS seems to stick!  As you can see, my eye-balling technique is definitely not a science and some loaves are slightly larger than others.

I put my loaves in my UNHEATED oven to rise and set the timer for about 45 minutes. DO NOT HAVE YOUR OVEN ON YET!!!  You could leave them on the counter if you want and cover them like you did when it was rising the first time.
Once the loaves are doubled in size I just leave them in the oven and turn it on to 375 degrees and set the timer for 20 minutes.  Your house is already starting to smell AMAZING!!!

After 20 minutes I cover loaves with foil so the tops don’t get too dark. Then set the timer for another 15-20 minutes. When the loaves are done they should sound like they are hollow if you tap on them with the end of a butter knife. If you’re not sure…bake for another 5 minutes or so.

Take bread out of the oven, lightly butter the tops and admire how pretty they are for about 3-5 minutes. Take bread out of the pans and place on a racks to cool. Allow to cool completely before putting into bags or it will sweat and make the bread soggy.
I cut the loaves into slices and freeze 3 of them…or sometimes just 2 because one always seems to disappears while they are still warm!  Warm bread with strawberry freezer jam = YUM!!!

ENJOY!!! My husband bought me a handy cutting guide so the slices will be nice and even. It’s perfect for toast but I think the slices are a little too thick for making sandwiches.

Just some FYI…
  • 4 cups of wheat kernels will grind into 6 cups of whole wheat flour. 
  • I buy yeast in bulk and then store it in a sealed container in the freezer. It helps to extend the life of the yeast.
  • When buying wheat I like the “hard white wheat” best. I think it has a better color to it and isn’t quite as heavy. This tutorial was done with “hard red wheat”. Red wheat is more common.
    I’d love to hear how it your bread turns out!  Let me know if you have any questions.  Good luck!


    Erin said...

    MyR! This is awesome...thank you so much! If you were here I'd give you a dollar...hah I'll let you know how mine turns out. I'm excited.

    Bonnie said...

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I have been making whole wheat bread since I was a little girl and as a grown up, I make it for my family, but they are getting tired of it. Your recipe is quite different than mine. I will have to give this a try.

    Have a great day.

    Bonnie from

    AUDRA said...

    I'm so glad you posted this! I've been wanting to make whole wheat bread but for some time but always find bread machine recipes instead of homemade.

    Heather said...

    Im going to try this recipe. Thank you for the tutorial. I have tried to make whole wheat bread once. It didnt turn out well. Yours looks amazing.