Whole Wheat Bread © llizard aka ejm 2000,2001,2002

based on a recipe in Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book - A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking by Laurel Robertson with Carol Flinders & Bronwen Godfrey, published by Random House NY

Ingredients one large boule or two regular loaves

    Starter Dough
    ¼ tsp active dry yeast
    ¼ c warm water
    6 Tbsp powdered milk
    ¾ c room temperature water
    300 gm (2 c) whole wheat flour
    ½ tsp salt
    Bread Dough
    1¾ tsp active dry yeast
    ½ c warm water
    all of starter dough
    2 Tbsp honey
    1 c warm water
    600 gm (4 c) whole wheat flour (or less)
    2 tsp salt
    cornmeal for dusting (optional)
    broiling pan and hot water
Preparation
  1. Starter Dough: On the evening before you are going to bake the bread: In a small bowl, mix the yeast in ¼ c lukewarm water (do the baby's bottle test on your wrist) and make sure that it bubbles (about 10 minutes).

  2. Put the milk powder into a bowl large enough for the starter dough to triple. Pour in the rest of the water. Add the yeast mixture.

  3. Add the flour to the yeast mixture, mixing it in well with a wooden spoon. Add salt near the end. Stir vigorously in a circular direction for 5 minutes.

  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the starter dough rise in a no-draught cool spot for 12 to 18 hours.

  5. Bread Dough: On the morning of the day you are going to bake the bread: In a small bowl, mix the yeast in ½ c lukewarm water and make sure that it bubbles.

  6. In a separate bowl, combine honey and 1 c warm water.

  7. Add the honey water to the starter dough bowl and mix well. Let your hands be your friends by squeezing the dough between your fingers. Add the small bowl of yeast to this mess and stir vigorously.

  8. Add all but 75 gm flour to the bowl of wet ingredients, mixing well with a wooden spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for about 20 minutes.

  9. Pour some of the remaining 75 gm flour on a flat surface (wooden board) for kneading. Turn the dough out onto the board.

  10. Wash and dry the mixing bowl. Sprinkle the salt over top of the dough. Then knead for 10 to 15 minutes, adding a little flour at a time until the dough is smooth and springy.

  11. Place dough in the clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a no-draught spot on the counter til doubled - about 1½ to 2 hours. (A good way to tell if it has doubled is to wet your finger and poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasn't risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.)

  12. When dough has doubled, carefully turn dough out onto board. Cut it in two. Make two flat rectangles and fold them in thirds to create two long loaves. (or you can make one large round loaf.) Place on a cornmeal covered baking tray - or peel if you have one. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 1 hour til almost double. (Or, shape into rectangles and roll like jelly rolls to make 2 loaves. Put them seam side down in a oiled loaf tins. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp towel and let rise again to almost double.) To test if it has risen enough, flour your finger and press gently on the edge - it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.

  13. Half an hour before you will be baking the bread, place baking stone on the second shelf from the bottom of the oven and turn oven to 400F. Put water into a broiling pan and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, it's still a good idea to preheat the oven for a substantial amount of time. (If you are baking the bread in tins, omit the broiling pan of water and bake the bread on the second shelf from the bottom of the oven.)

  14. Just before baking, slash the tops of loaves with a very sharp knife.

  15. Place bread in oven and immediately turn oven down to 350F; bake the loaves for 45-50 minutes until hollow sounding on the bottom.

  16. Turn off the oven. Put the finished bread back in the oven and leave with the door ajar for 5 or 10 minutes. Remove to cool on cooling racks. Wait til the bread is cool before cutting it.

Uneaten bread should be stored at room temperature rather than refrigerated. (The refrigerator causes the bread to go stale faster.) Bread can also be stored in the freezer - double bagged airtight plastic. Take it out of the freezer and leave it in the bag until the bread has thawed.

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