Wholly Whole Wheat Bread (How My Sloppily Incorrect Technique Yielded Tasty Results Nonetheless)

June 28, 2013

At few weeks ago, I finally stopped and bought some whole wheat flour from Farmer John at the Farmers’ Market. Farmer John, of Butte Mill Flour Company, grows hard red winter what outside of Niwot, and stone grinds it himself. I’d been eyeing his flour for some time, but just haven’t done much yeast baking in the past few years, opting instead for the much more forgiving quick breads. But with my summer of ‘training’ for the body fat loss contest I’m doing, I’m avoiding refined flours in anything I eat at home. So the time was perfect to give his flour a try.

I decided to be really brave and just go with all whole wheat flour, something I normally wouldn’t even consider doing — there were too many whole wheat and rye flour bread attempts when I was younger that resulted in much unpleasantness. But I thought the mashed potato trick I discovered a while ago might help out, so I had a small bit of confidence in the experiment. I referenced a recipe on the King Arthur Flour site, and went from there. In addition to a mashed sweet potato, I decided to add a small bit of oat bran, flax seeds and wheat germ.

Whole Wheat Bread Ingredients

Whole Wheat Bread Ingredients (Apologies for the fogginess – pictures taken during an unplanned camera lens fingerprint phase.)

I made the first batch after a particularly tiring weight lifting workout, and had no intention of spending 15 minutes kneading bread. So I decided to see how the bread machine would do with it on the dough setting. (I planned to bake it in the oven.) The answer was, ‘interestingly’. At first the mixture was way, way too dry, so I added water during the first part of the mixing until the dough could actually move around. Then I decided that maybe it was too much water. But I decided I’d just let it run through the dough cycle and see what happened.

Totally not the right texture

Totally not the right texture

Well, it was a sticky, sticky mess. So I tried to knead some flour into it. (So much for giving my arms a rest). But I discovered that whole wheat isn’t really the best kneading flour. I couldn’t get past sticky even after adding another 3/4 cup of flour. Being stubborn and wanting to stick to my no unrefined flours rule, I decided to put it back into the bread machine for another dough cycle. I don’t know why, it just seemed like something to do. (I was totally winging it at this point, obviously). I let it go through most of the cycle, but took it out just a little early, and dumped the entirely wrong-textured dough into a couple of bread pans and put it in to bake.

Still not the right texture - oh, whatever!

Still not the right texture – oh, whatever!

Amazingly, when it was done, it had a pretty nice texture, and tasted quite good. It was robust – definitely not your soft ciabatta or French bread taste or texture, but my husband and I finished both loaves off in about six days, so clearly it was good enough to warrant a repeat.

Wholly Whole Wheat Bread

Wholly Whole Wheat Bread

I tried making a second batch the next weekend. I used slightly less flour and water, left the wheat germ out (I thought it tasted just a tiny bit too wheat germy the first time), and used butter instead of olive oil to give it a richer taste. Things went pretty much the same as the first time, except I just added the extra flour to the bread machine before the second dough cycle instead of even trying a kneading phase. I used my large loaf pan instead of making two loaves, so that I would hopefully have taller bread, but that turned out to be a mistake. It took a very long time for the bread to get anywhere close to completely baked because of its denseness. In fact, I actually ended up slicing the bread, laying the pieces on a baking sheet, and finishing it off at a lower temperature as if I were making biscotti. (Note to self – excellent Plan B for any future too-moist bread products.) I think making two shorter loaves was an unintentional wise move the first time around. But this one did taste really good.

I can’t really recommend this recipe to anyone, but should you wish to have a bit of a whole wheat adventure, here’s the amounts I used for both rounds:

Round 1:

3 c + 3/4 c stone ground whole wheat flour
11 oz sweet potato – cooked and mashed until smooth
1/4 c oat bran
2 Tbsp wheat germ
2 Tbsp flax seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1+1/2 c water
1 pkg yeast (mine was specially recommended for whole grains and had 25% more in the package
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

Round 2:

2 c + 1/2 c stone ground whole wheat flour
11 oz sweet potato – cooked and mashed until smooth
1/3 cup oat bran
2 Tbsp flax seeds
2 Tbsp melted butter
1+1/2 c water
1 pkg yeast (mine was specially recommended for whole grains and had 25% more in the package
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in the bread pan and run through the bread cycle. Keep an eye on it, and add additional water and assist mixing with a spatula as needed. Add the additional flour, mix it in a bit with a spatula, then run through another bread cycle. Towards the end of the second bread cycle, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put dough in two bread pans brushed with olive oil, and bake about 35-40 minutes. The bread is done when it is firm and crusty on top (you can check the temperature with a thermometer as well – it should be 190 degrees).


4 Responses to “Wholly Whole Wheat Bread (How My Sloppily Incorrect Technique Yielded Tasty Results Nonetheless)”

  1. pattyabr Says:

    way to stick with it :)

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Hi there! I am so glad I found your blog. I live out of state and was at the Boulder Farmer’s Market for a pit stop from a Denver conference.

    I bought 10 lbs of Farmer John’s Winter Rye and Wheat berries. My boyfriend and I are really enjoying them!

    If I were not on my way back to the airport for my flight back home, I would have bought everything that he had at his booth.

    I also had bought one of his flours, and thanks for these recipes. Otherwise, I really didn’t know how to bake it. I’ll give this a try.

    Thank you.

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