Here it is! My favorite way to use the "staff of life"!
The first measurement before each dash is for a Large Batch, Second is Medium, Third is small. DO NOT USE ALL THREE AND THEN BLAME ME (lol!)
14-16/ 10-12 / 6-7- cups whole wheat flour
3 T- 2 T - 1 T - dry yeast
1/2 cup – 1/3 cup - 1/4 cup - gluten flour
6 cups - 4 cups - 2 cups - warm water
1/2 cup – 1/3 cup – 1/4 cup - Applesauce or vegetable oil
1 cup – 2/3 cup –1/4 cup - honey
1 ½ T – 1 T – 2 t – salt
Place 9, 6 or 3 cups fresh flour (depending on desired batch size) into mixer equipped with dough hook. Add dry yeast and gluten flour. Pulse to mix well. Add water, and mix for 1 minute. Turn off mixer, cover bowl, and let dough sponge for 10 - 15 minutes. (Sponging makes lighter bread and reduces kneading time). Add applesauce (or oil) honey, and salt. Turn on mixer, and quickly add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. The amount of flour needed may vary. Knead 7 to 10 minutes (by hand 12-15 minutes) or until dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise in bowl about 10 -15 minutes (this can be skipped if in a rush but makes the dough easier to form into loaves and makes bread a bit lighter). Place in lightly oiled pans and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until double. Bake in 350 degree oven for 28 – 35 minutes
Large batch makes: 5-6 - 4”x8 ½” loaves or 8-9 3”x5 ¾” loaves
Medium batch makes: 4 - 4x8” ½ loaves or 6-7 3”x5 ¾”loaves
Small batch makes: 2 - 4”x8 ½”loaves or 3-4 3”x5 ¾” loaves
These are things I have learned from experience and/or the “Set for Life” book by Jane P. Merrill and Karen M. Sunderland:
Remember to use fresh ground wheat; mill it yourself, or buy from refrigerator in health food stores, last resort use flour from store, but know it’s not as good as the fresh.
I use applesauce to make this bread fat free. If I run out of applesauce I use oil, it tastes just as good.
I like bread to be soft and I love the taste of “honey whole wheat” so I use 1 cup honey, sometimes I use ¾ honey and ¼ molasses, which makes bread dark and rich. I have a friend that reduces the honey to ½ cup and salt to 1 T for less sugar and low sodium and still makes delicious bread.
I love using white wheat as it makes lighter bread, which my kids love, but hard red wheat has more protein per grain and contains more gluten. I try to mix red and white wheat ½ and ½ and find a good compromise. My husband loves darker bread so when I use molasses and all red wheat he is in heaven.
Bread takes about 2 – 2 1/2 hours to make, I usually start the process when I get home from running, about 6:30 a.m. and can take a shower during the first proof, and dress during the kneading time. While bread rises in pans I can get breakfast on the table and get the kids out the door. Then I put the bread in the oven, put on my lipstick and take it out by 9:00 am …‘Cause I’m a Woooooman’….
Oil your hands and work surface, (if you use flour the bread gets dry), I use spray oil.
The Set –For – Life book has suggestions that they say will improve bread texture:
Add 1 cup buttermilk or yogurt in place of 1 cup of the water
Add approximately 500 mg of vitamin C with your flour
Add 2 T lemon juice instead of Vitamin C
Add 2 T dry or liquid lecithin to the dough
Replace 1 to 3 cups whole wheat flour with white flour.
I have never tried any of these except for the lemon juice (which I couldn’t tell much of a difference) because I don’t ever have any of those things on hand. But experiment and see what works for you.
I have occasionally added 2 cups white flour in place of 1½ cup wheat flour and ½ cup gluten if I am out of gluten or don’t want to spend the money. (Gluten is pricey; I get it in the health food section at my grocery store with the “Bobs Red Mill products but I have seen it in health food stores as well)
Don’t use large bread pans, Whole wheat dough is heavy and can’t support itself in a wide pan. I love medium pans which are 4”x8 ½”, but I know people who love smaller pans. My family would feel put out with smaller sandwiches (especially my 11 and 13 year old boys)
Oven temperatures vary; my oven bakes the loaves in 28 minutes, but when I baked in Canada at my MIL’s it took 35 minutes. Ovens vary, and I think maybe altitude has something to do with it too. I am almost at sea level and she lives on the high plains. Look for loaves to be golden brown, and make a hollow sound when thumped.
My sister taught me to preheat oven to 400 degrees, let bread rise till double - place bread in the oven and then immediately turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Then bake for 35-40 minutes. I have forgotten to turn the oven down too many times and have toasted too many batches to count, but I did like the way the bread turned out when I got it right. I just can’t trust my feeble brain to remember (remember Dory?) If you trust yourself – go for it. It is supposed to kill the yeast to keep bread from rising too high and keep it more dense and soft. 350 degrees for 28 minutes works great for me.
Last, to keep the crust soft (my kids favorite) keep a spray bottle on hand. When you remove bread from the oven place it on cooling racks, mist it lightly and cover with dish towels. You can also cool bread under damp dish towels.
Experiment, have fun! Make it your own. I have really learned to love baking. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I see homemade bread on the counter. This dough makes great monkey bread, rolls and cinnamon rolls. I use the bread for French toast, bread pudding (when it gets stale) sandwiches (tuna and a glass of milk – yum!!) or I put on spaghetti sauce, favorite toppings, a little cheese, bake and make a yummy mini-pizzas, in the morning I break it up in a bowl, slice a banana, put cinnamon and sugar on top and pour milk on it. It makes a filling breakfast when I don’t have time to make whole grain cereal. I love it! Get creative, tweak the recipe and make it your own, just learn to use the “staff of life” as your main fuel. Good luck! I hope to see many positive testimonials to your weekend of baking in the comment section!