Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve found it, and it works. The 100% whole wheat bread that is tasty and soft and light and perfect for sandwiches of all kinds has been in the possession of the folks at King Arthur Flour. It is, apparently, their most popular recipe, so I’m feeling a little sheepish that I just discovered it a few weeks ago. Since then I have made about 8 loaves, and each has been as perfect as the one before.
Not only that, but it is easy, doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, and a cinch to memorize: all of the “extra” ingredients (outside of flour, salt, yeast and water) are added in the same amount. A quarter cup honey, a quarter cup oil, a quarter cup powdered milk per loaf. It’s like a mnemonic device for baking. I love it.
Already it has become a staple in our kitchen. It’s not so sexy and exotic that it is gobbled up in minutes, but it doesn’t linger long enough to start growing appendages, either. It is like the perfect friend: good to have around in any situation, doesn’t overstay its welcome, and not at all high maintenance. And it’s good for you. What more could you want in a loaf of bread?
Are you ready for me to stop effusing about this? Please, go try it for yourselves. This recipe yields one loaf, but I always double it and it works perfectly.
Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread from King Arthur Flour
1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
1/4 cup nonfat dried milk
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
*Use more water in dry climates and in winter, less in warmth and summer.
In a large bowl or standing mixer, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a lightly greased surface and knead, with lightly oiled hands, 6-8 minutes or until it becomes smooth. (Or let the standing mixer do the work. That’s fine, too.) The dough should be soft, but firm enough to knead. Add water or flour to adjust the consistency if you need to.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover. Let it rise until it is puffy, but not necessarily doubled in bulk. (It says 1-2 hours, but mine is generally good after about 45 minutes.)
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, shape it into an 8-inch log and place into a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. (I find it easiest to shape into a loaf by patting it into a rectangle first, then rolling it up.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. (Again, this takes about 45 minutes in my kitchen.) Towards the end of the rising, preheat the oven to 35o.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, checking after 20 minutes to see how brown it is. If it looks like it might get too brown, tent it loosely with foil. When it’s done (a thermometer inserted into it should read 190), turn it out onto a cooling rack. If you want, you can rub the crust with a stick of butter. Cool completely before slicing.