There is nothing snarky or funny I can think of to say about whole wheat bread. It is in my opinion, by definition, dull. That being said, it is what my wife likes to eat her sandwiches on so when I came across a recipe, I thought I would give it a shot. I have essentially halved a recipe I found in the very excellent Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking book I got a while back. Sadly, it is now out of print.

Equipment

  • Stand mixer ( or you can mix and knead your dough by hand in which case you will need an additional large bowl, a wooden spoon, another spatula, forearms of steel)
  • Measuring stuff
  • Large bowl
  • Clean dish towel
  • Whisk
  • 9×5 loaf pan
  • Rolling pin
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2.5 teaspoons) dry active yeast
  • 1 cup whole milk (you can get away with 2% but no low fat or skim)
  • 3 tablespoons honey (Tip: the stuff that comes in the plastic bear is usually not 100% pure honey)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature) Plus a little extra to butter the loaf pan
  • A little oil (this is just for coating the bowl to keep the dough from sticking while it’s rising)

Time: About 4 hours but about 3.5 hours of that is waiting for things to rise and bake.

Yield: 9″ loaf of bread. About half of the bread you would get from a supermarket loaf which is good for about a weeks worth of sandwiches.

Instructions:

  1. Warm the milk to between 115-120º F (40-46ºC) Note: about 45 seconds in the microwave for cold milk directly from the fridge works for our microwave. Results will vary depending on the power of your microwave.
  2. Put the milk in your mixing bowl and add the yeast.
  3. Wait 5-6 minutes until the milk gets a little foamy from the yeast.
  4. Using the whisk, stir in the eggs and honey.
  5. Add the flour, salt, and butter.
  6. Put the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook and turn on on low speed. (If you are not using a mixer, use the wooden spoon to combine all of the ingredients in your bowl)
  7. When the  dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, let it the mixer keep kneading for about 5-7 minutes. (If you are not using a mixer, when the ingredients are completely mixed, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes)
  8. Lightly oil a bowl that will accommodate the dough when it doubles in size. Better to have too big a bowl than too small).
  9. Put the ball of dough in the oiled bowl.
  10. Cover the bowl with the clean dish towel and put the bowl someplace warm and out of the way.
  11. Let the dough sit for 1.5-2 hours by which time it should have about doubled in size.
  12. Before you remove the dough from the bowl, lightly butter the loaf pan and sprinkle a bit of flour on your work surface.
  13. Punch down the dough and then dump it out onto your work surface.
  14. Flatten it a bit with your hands and then use the rolling pin to flatten it down to about a half inch thick rectangularish shape with a short edge about the same width as your loaf pan is long (that would be 9″ for those of you playing at home).
  15. Carefully roll the flat dough up making a concerted effort to keep the roll tight. You want this to form a roll of dough that will fit neatly into the loaf pan so you should be rolling along the short (9″) edge.
  16. Plop the roll into the loaf pan with the seam in the bottom of the pan and gently press it down so that it fills the pan.
  17. Cover with your clean dish towel and let it rest in a warm spot for 45-60 minutes. 
  18. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC ) Note: If you are using a baking stone, you should start the preheating when you put the loaf pan aside so that the stone has time to heat up too.
  19. Dust the top of the loaf with some extra flour and pop it in the oven.
  20. Bake until a nice khaki color and tapping on the top gives you a nice hollow sound.
  21. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes
  22. Carefully turn the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Or at least until you can’t take it any more and then hack off a chunk to eat warm with some melted butter.
  23. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.