Friday, January 21, 2011


Best Blog Tips

I haven't been cooking much beyond soup, veggie sausages, and pasta these days, due to our situation, but earlier this week I decided to experiment with converting my 100% whole wheat sandwich bread to the no-knead technique, to make it easier and more flexible for busy home bakers.  Not everyone wants the crusty bread that the no-knead technique is so great for-- sometimes you want a softer bread, or sometimes you don't want to bother with baking on hot baking stones or in hot pots!

I tried it one time with too much water in it and it was tasty, but too heavy.  So, the other day, I cut back on the water and it was just great!  If you prefer 100% whole wheat, but you want a less crusty, softer version, I think you'll enjoy this simple bread for toast and sandwiches.  We mill our own flour with the wonderful WonderMill, BTW!

Printable Recipe

Yield: 2 loaves 
(You can double this recipe to make 4 loaves, but DO NOT double the yeast! If you halve the recipe to make only one loaf, use only 1 teaspoon of dry active baking yeast or 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast)

IMPORTANT NOTE! Before making this recipe, get an inexpensive oven thermometer and test the heat of your oven. Many ovens are as much as 100° off, even new ones! If it is seriously off, have it calibrated by someone from a company that sells and fixes stoves and ovens. Otherwise, you may have to adjust the temperature up or down when you bake.

3 1/2 cups very warm potato cooking water
OR use warm water water plus 1/4 cup instant potato flakes
1 Tbs sweetener of choice (I use organic sugar)
1 1/2 tsp. (1/2 Tbs.) dry active baking yeast (please DO NOT increase this amount!) OR 1 tsp. instant yeast
1/4 cup ground flax (optional) (use golden flax, if you like)
1 Tbs sea salt (please DO NOT reduce this amount or leave out-- salt is important to regulate rising, as well as for taste)
2 Tbs oil (I use olive)
7 cups whole wheat flour (Canadian all-purpose whole wheat flour has a higher gluten content than US; use bread flour in the US; use hard white whole wheat flour if you like) (If you grind your own, 4 1/2 cups hard wheat kernels [red or white varieties] will mill into just about this amount of flour)
OPTIONAL: raw sesame seeds to sprinkle on the bottom of the pan

NOTE: Why use potato water? Well, for one thing, it's a good use of water from cooking potatoes. But, seriously, the potato seems to help make 100% whole wheat bread nice and light-- I'm not sure why.

Dissolve the yeast in the potato water or water with potato flakes, along with the sweetener in a large bowl. When bubbly, mix with the remaining ingredients and then stir in the flour, using a Danish dough whisk or a heavy wooden spoon.  The dough will be soft and rough looking-- don't worry!

Cover the bowl with a disposable clear plastic shower cap (TIP: I get a pack of 8 of these for $1 at my local dollar store—very useful for covering bowls in the fridge, etc.), a snap-lid or plastic wrap (or place the whole bowl inside of a new small white bin-liner-bag and twist-tie it, leaving room for rising), and let rise AT LEAST until it rises and collapse (2-3 hours), but preferably for about 12 hours on the counter at normal room temperature. (I think the longer rise makes for better flavor and texture.)

You can place the dough in the pans right away, if you like, but it’s easier to handle when it’s cold, so you can place the covered bowl (let the gas out if you use a snap-lid) in the refrigerator for up to a week or so.  (When I made this batch, it was only refrigerated for about 1 1/2 days.)

Either way, when you're ready to bake, shape the dough into 2 loaves (they will look a bit loose and sloppy, but not to worry!) and place in greased 8-8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans. (If you like, sprinkle the bottoms of the pan first with a few raw sesame seeds. My husband always does this and it lends a little extra something to the flavor!) Pat down on the top of the loaves with a wet hand to make the surface even.

Cover the loaves loosely (you can place the pans inside of a new small white bin-liner-bag and twist-tie it, leaving room for rising, or use the plastic shower caps) and let the COLD loaves rise about 2 hours, or the un-refrigerated dough rise for about 40 minutes, or to the top of the pans or slightly rounded over the tops of the pans.

If you want to try using my husband's unique baking technique, which makes a moist bread with a nice crust, preheat oven to 480 degrees F with convection, 500 degrees F without convection.  If you can’t be bothered changing the temperature during baking, just heat it to 375ºF!

Using my husband’s technique: just before baking, spray the loaves with water from a pump-sprayer (this helps you get a nice "oven-spring"). Place the loaves in the middle of the oven, and bake for 5 minutes. IMMEDIATELY LOWER HEAT TO 400 degrees F with convection, 410 degrees without (if you are baking 4 loaves at once, make the temperature 410 degrees F with convection, 425 degrees without), and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you are using the usual baking technique: Bake at 375ºF for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown.

TIP: Either way, if your oven heat is uneven, switch the loaves around to different positions after the first 10 minutes at the lower temperature. Remove the loaves from pans immediately and cool on racks before slicing.

TIP If you like a shinier crust, rub the top of the loaves with a little vegan vegan butter.

Turn the loaves out onto racks to cool thoroughly (loosen the sides with a table knife, if necessary).



Helena Marinho said...

How can you be SO amazing?! Probably you read that a LOT o' times, but... Nonetheless, you rock!
Thank you for this! Making STAT!

Take care!



Anonymous said...

I just ate a slice of this bread, still slightly warm from the oven, with blueberry jam. Yum!

The recipe was very easy and worked well. I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. My house is fairly cold right now--65 degrees F--so it took much longer to rise. I left the initial batch out on the countertop overnight and that was long enough. The second rise, while in the pans, took over two hours. I finally warmed the oven up a little and put the pans inside, and the dough expanded a lot in the warmth. Then I took the pans out and preheated for the real baking.

The bread is lighter than other 100% whole wheat breads I have made in the past. I will definitely make this again and again.

My hands are starting to develop arthritis, so a no knead recipe is just what I need. :-)

Thank you, Bryanna, for another recipe that will go into regular use in my house. And I look forward to adding your new book to the bookcase next to all your others.


Marie said...

You convinced me a while ago to try the no knead bread and I was quite please. Can't wait to try this one!
Thank you Bryanna.

Phather Phlat said...

Sorry your New Year is starting shakily. May there be good things to come. I'm glad to hear you are taking time for yourself. The best thing we can do for others is to keep ourselves of sound mind + body. Otherwise we can be more trouble than help, when called upon. I find attention to healthy cooking and exercise stabilizing during trying times. Be well...

Culinary School Guide said...

This bread looks perfect. seriously, perfect.

jayedee said...

i cannot wait to try this recipe! thank you for sharing it!

Marthaeo said...

Thanks for this recipe. I will try it. I have been avoiding bread because of the pain kneading would cause to my lateral epicondylitis (don't know if I spelled that correctly...) otherwise known as tennis elbow, but I don't play tennis (well....on the wii now and then, but I don't think that counts as "real" tennis!) Anyway, thank you for this recipe! marthaeo

Kaylen said...

Thank you! This turned out great!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I'm so glad this recipe is working for others-- I love making good bread easier to make!

Andrea said...

I'm glad that it works for most of you, so I'm not gonna give it up! Unfortunately I just had to bin the lot. It didn't raise, not even a bit :( It could have had many reasons why it din't work, ie. I'm in Hungary using local ingredients, and the flour could have different gluten content, but I suspect the yeast is different too.

Bryanna, please advise me, how much freash yeast should I use (ie. how many gramms, we usually have 5g cubes) if I want to try that instead of the dy ones?

Thanks in advance, Andrea

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Andrea, I'm so sorry it didn't work. Do you have any idea what the gluten content of your flour is? As for the yeast, an expert I looked up said to substitute about 20g fresh (compressed)yeast for the 1 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast I called for. Does that sound right?

Andrea said...

Yes, the 20g fress yeast sounds good to me. I'll try soon and will let you know how it turns out.

As for gluten content, I have no clue. Not even sure how I could check it. But I really don't think there is a problem with the gluten. I've made no-knead bred before from white flour and it worked fine, I'd guess then the whole wheat has enough gluten too.

I'll try with fresh yeast and see what I make of it.
It just has to work, it's too good a recepie to lose!


Andrea said...

It works with fresh yeast!! I made the bread last week with 20g fresh yeast and it turned out wonderful!
We eat one loaf fresh, and I put the other one into the freezer. We took it out a few days later it was perfect when defrosted.
Thanks a lot!

Huan said...

Hi Bryanna, can i add oats into this recipe? Thanks

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Huan, I'm sure you could add about a cup of oats-- it might not rise quite as high, but would probably taste very good!