whole wheat bread
This fast and basic recipe for Whole Wheat Bread has a brilliant technique that allows you to get two gorgeous and delicious loaves on the table in just over an hour… start to finish! With only 6 ingredients there’s no excuse not to make this nutritious and homemade whole wheat bread.
I have a confession… I love making bread. But I don’t do it often because it takes planning. You really need at least half a day. So when I saw Rebecca Lindamood’s super fast recipe for Whole Wheat Bread in her new cookbook Ready, Set, Dough!, needless to say I was very intrigued. Rebecca is the mastermind behind the awesome blog Foodie With Family She has five boys, so of course she would need to be super creative to actually have time to make homemade bread.
The first thing that struck me is how quickly this very basic recipe comes together. That is because the second rise, which would normally take at least an hour, happens in the oven as it heats up. I was a little skeptical, but I will tell you this trick is seriously genius!
Tips For Making Homemade Yeast-Leavened Bread
- Baking is a science: Measure all ingredients very carefully. Using a food scale to weigh ingredients if possible is the most accurate.
- Follow the recipe: This might seem obvious, but how many times when you’re cooking do you throw in a little extra of this or take a short cut to do that? This is not the time to improvise, especially if you’re new to baking bread.
- Test your yeast: Yeast is a living organism and can die if it’s too old or has not been stored properly. To test yeast and make sure it’s still viable add it to warm water with a little sugar and within a few minutes a bubbly foam should appear on the surface. If you see this foam, the yeast is good to go.
- Reserve 1/2 cup flour: If too much flour is added the dough will be heavy and dry and is very difficult to knead, so I usually hold back 1/2 cup of the flour and then add it as necessary while I’m mixing the ingredients.
- You need to knead: This is the fun part! Once all of the ingredients have formed an elastic dough that is not too sticky place it on a lightly floured counter or board. Fold the dough in half and push it down with the heel of your hand. Then flip it over and repeat the process, adding flour as necessary so it doesn’t stick to your hands or the counter and until the dough is smooth and elastic. This can take between 5-10 minutes (follow the recipe).
- Let it rise: (Yes, I did sing this in my head… you know the song:) This is called the first rise and for most recipes the dough should almost double in size. Shape the dough into a ball and place in in a greased bowl that is at least twice as large as the ball. Turn the dough over to grease the surface as well, so it doesn’t dry out. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and place it in a warm place. Rising times are approximate, so make sure and check the dough often.
- Punch it: After the dough has doubled in size, punch it so that it deflates and the carbon dioxide is released making it easier to shape.
- Shape it: Shape the dough according to the recipe, cover it and let it rise again. This is called the second rise. The recipe will usually call for it to double in size again or to almost double and then it will rise even more when baking, which is called oven spring.
- Cool it: This the the most difficult part of the bread baking process. For loaves with a crisp crust it needs to cool completely after baking on a wire rack before you cut it. But for softer breads like dinner rolls, you can just eat those babies warm right out of the oven.
I know making homemade bread can seem daunting, but it’s really just mixing together flour, yeast, water and maybe a few other ingredients and letting the yeast do it’s thing. If you have never attempted to make bread before, this fast Whole Wheat Bread is the recipe to try.
What is Baker’s Yeast and How Does It Work?
- It is a microscopic fungus… similar to an edible mushroom
- The scientific name is really long, but basically means sugar-eating fungus
- Yeast cells digest sugar in order to grow
- This growth is called fermentation and produces carbon dioxide gas and ethyl alcohol, which are released into the dough
- The gas gets trapped in the elastic and stretchy dough, which causes the dough to inflate or rise and the ethyl alcohol gives the bread it’s typical flavor and aroma
- The resulting product is called a yeast-leavened bread
Now let’s talk about the star of the show – Yeast! Most dry yeast is shelf stable because it has been freeze dried into dormancy (but don’t forget to check the expiration date) and sold in small envelopes or jars. Its usually located in the baking aisle of the grocery store near the baking soda and baking powder. Fresh yeast on the other hand is usually wrapped in foil and found in the refrigerator section.
What Are the Different Types of Yeast?
Active Dry Yeast
- Larger granules that need to be dissolved or bloomed in water before being used
- The water must be lukewarm (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit) in order to active the yeast from it’s dormant state
- If the water is below 105 degrees the yeast will not activate and if the water is above 115 degrees it could kill the yeast and the bread will not rise
- Once mixed with lukewarm water it usually takes about 5 minutes for foamy bubbles to appear
- These bubbles indicate that the yeast is ready to be added to the rest of the ingredients
- Smaller granules that can be mixed directly into the dry ingredients
- Because of these finer particles it dissolves faster and activates quicker
- It can be used interchangeably with active dry yeast (active dry may take a little longer to rise)
Rapid-Rise or Quick-Rise Yeast
- Very similar to instant yeast with smaller granules that do not need to be dissolved in water
- Enzymes and other additives haven been included to make the dough rise faster
- With this yeast it is possible to shape the dough right after kneading and skip the first rise
- Also called fresh yeast or cake yeast
- Comes in small foil wrapped square cakes and is found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store and has a shorter shelf life than the dry yeasts above
- Needs to be softened in warm water before use
- Best for bread that requires long rise times
Check out Red Star Yeast’s product page for even more information.
After mixing the dough you have to give the yeast time to do it’s job. This is called proofing the dough and letting it rise. Most recipes require two rise times… the first right after mixing and the second after you shape the dough.
What Does it Mean to Proof Dough?
- This is a step in the preparation of a yeast-leavened bread or baked good
- The dough is allowed to rest in a warm (ideally 80-85 degree) dry location
- This is when the yeast feeds on the sugar and fermentation occurs releasing gasses and leavening the dough
- Rebecca recommends placing the dough in your oven with just the light turned on or placing it in a cardboard box with a glass of hot water next to it to create the perfect proofing environment
How Can I Tell When My Dough Has Risen Enough?
- Test after the dough has doubled in size or according to the recipe
- Use your finger to gently poke the dough making about a 1 inch indention
- If the indention remains, the dough is ready for the next step
- If the indention pops back up, cover the dough and let it rise a bit longer
Slashing or scoring the dough just before baking is done to allow the bread to expand during baking and take advantage of the oven spring. It also makes it look really pretty. If you bake bread on the regular, you can get really fancy with it. Check out this awesome post from King Arthur Flour to really get the low down on scoring dough.
Tips For Scoring Bread Dough
- Use a blade or a very sharp knife
- Make a swift but gentle cut about 1/4 inch deep
- Don’t press down on the dough
Not only is this bread so pretty with the awesome scoring and light dusting of flour on top, it is also absolutely delicious. The whole wheat flour adds wonderful color, flavor and texture. It is perfect for sandwiches, but my favorite way to eat it is to toast it in the morning and slather it with peanut butter and just a little strawberry jam. It literally made me want to get up in the morning!
How To Make Basic Whole Wheat Bread?
- Mix flour, yeast (if using instant), sugar, salt, water (in order to speed up the first rise use very warm water, but do not let it go above 120 degrees), and olive oil in a large mixing bowl with a spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
- Knead about 4 minutes until a smooth dough ball forms.
- Return the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough in half and form into two tight dough balls or loaf shapes and place directly on a baking sheet or in a loaf pan.
- Press down gently and dust with flour.
- Slash the tops of the loaves three times.
- Place in a cold oven with a pan of hot tap water on the rack below.
- Set the oven to 400 degrees and set the timer for 40 minutes.
- Remove bread from oven and set the baking sheet on a wire rack, letting the loaves cool completely on the pan.
Don’t miss checking Rebecca’s new cookbook because in addition to this awesome recipe you’ll find recipes for pizzas, muffin breads, bagel sticks, cornbread and several roll recipes like Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls… seriously!!
Please come back and let me know if you try this recipe! We love to hear from you! Don’t forget to leave a star rating and review! Thanks!!Print
This basic recipe for Whole Wheat Bread has a brilliant technique that allows you to get two gorgeous and delicious loaves on the table in just over an hour… start to finish! With only 6 ingredients there’s no excuse not to make this fast, nutritious, homemade whole wheat bread.
4 cups (1 lb, 1 oz or 482 g) all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 cups (9 oz or 255 g) whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons (24 g) instant or active dry yeast
2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (18g) kosher salt (if using table salt, reduce to 1 1/2 teaspoons (9g)
2 cups (480 ml) very warm water (about 120 degrees)
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
Mix the flours, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl with a sturdy spoon until a shaggy dough forms, then knead until the dough comes together and becomes smooth, about 4 minutes by hand or machine. Form a smooth dough ball. Return the dough to the bowl, co ver with a clean tea towel, and let it rise in a warm place for 15-25 minutes.
Divide the dough in half and form into two tight dough balls or load shapes. You can place the balls or loaves directly on a rimmed baking sheet or in standard-size loaf pans. Press down slightly to flatten them, then dust a teaspoon of flour over each loaf, rubbing with your hands to distribute the flour. Slash the tops of the loaves three times.
Place the loaves on the middle rack of a cold oven with a pan of hot tap water on the rack below it. Close the oven, set the heat at 400 degrees, and set the timer for 40 minutes. It is imperative that you start this in a cold oven!
After 40 minutes, remove the bread from the oven and transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Cool the bread completely before removing from the pan and slicing.