So in this last recipe in my no knead bread series, I wanted to end it with a simple, healthy whole wheat bread. No frills, no gimmicks. Just plain old whole wheat bread.
I think most people have gone to whole wheats and grains when it comes to breads, and really, you should. I’ll admit here that white bread is still my favorite though, and I don’t care who knows! My husband and I watch a lot of documentaries, about how food is made and grown and it is one topic we really tend to zero in on. A lot of whole wheat flour that we buy from the store is actually still really processed and the “good stuff” that keeps the wheat whole is actually stripped out in many cases, leaving the healthy whole wheat flour, healthier than a standard all purpose white, but still robbed of what makes it good. I swear, I’m going to end up milling my own flour next. The realities of what goes into (or not into) our food is really frustrating. Another topic for another day I suppose.
So for one last go at this, here is a simple recipe for ya to bake for breakfast tomorrow morning! Yum!
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups water – at room temperature
In a big bowl, mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Pour water into the bowl and using a spatula or a wooden spoon mix it until well incorporated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter for 12 to 18 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 F degrees. Add your cast iron pot/similar to the oven as it’s heating and heat it as well until it’s at 450 F degrees. If using a bread cloche, just put the lid in the oven to heat up.
Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid from it. If you want to make sure your bread doesn’t stick to the pot you can sprinkle some flour or cornmeal on the bottom of the pot. (Note – You can also spray with olive oil cooking spray!) If using a cloche, line it with parchment paper.
Flour your hands really well and also sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough. With your floured hands gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball for a round baking dish, or an oblong shape for a long bake dish. Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, after which remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
If using a bread cloche, bake for 50-55 minutes with the lid on the entire time. Do not remove it.
Remove the bread from the pot, it should fall out easily. Let cool completely before slicing into it and serving.
Here’s how it turns out:
Get out a large mixing bowl and add in your flour, salt and yeast.
I sometimes get asked what type of flour I bake with. This is the brand of whole wheat flour I use and I find that I get the best results from it with breads. I am in Arlington, WA, so I don’t know how widely available this brand is through the USA, but I do know that I have not seen it in Canada when I have looked. Sorry!
Then pour in your water and mix well with a wooden spoon. Your dough will look and feel very wet and sticky. It should. You don’t want it dry. If it is wet looking and sticking to everything, you’ve done it right. Add in a tablespoon of water at a time if your dough is still a bit dry looking and keep going until it’s moist.
Cover this with plastic wrap and leave it on your counter for 12-18 hours. You’ll want to think ahead about that before you start. I usually mix this up mid afternoon for a morning bake the next day.
Then next day…..your dough will have gotten nice and active overnight and will sometimes triple in size. This is why you want a large mixing bowl to start with. It should look puffy and bubbly and still look very wet and sticky. You’ll notice here that I didn’t use my largest white mixing bowl. I was using it for something else that day and I took a chance with my mid-sized bowl. What happened you ask? Why is this such a big deal and why do I keep repeating it? Well, here’s why. The fermenting with whole wheat flour really gets more active than a regular white flour typically, and it will really rise on you overnight. Luckily, it didn’t go over the edges – the plastic wrap obviously slowed it down. But the lesson here is, don’t be like me. This is your public service announcement for the day. Be smart. Use a big bowl.
Get your oven preheated to 450 degrees. Get out your dutch oven or you can also use one of these – a standard corningware dish. This is what I used for a long time and it worked great.
I am going to use what I always use, which is my bread cloche. I will link to an older post I wrote about what this cloche does here if you would like more information. I love it and I will never use anything else now that I have tried it! I only heat the lid up in the oven with the cloche.
I then line it with parchment paper every time. The dough will stick otherwise and this cloche isn’t something you wash or clean like a normal bake dish.
Then flour your hands and do your best to get that dough out of the bowl without handling it too much. We want to keep all the lightness and bubbles in there as much as possible. My method is to use both floured hands and sort of scoop the dough on both sides of the bowl, go all the way down and get your hands right around and under the bottom to get the whole thing in the middle of both of your hands. Quickly lift it out, roughly shape it and put it directly into your baking dish. Mine is the oblong cloche so I just sort of pulled it long and dropped it in. I don’t do much to make it pretty. It will do it’s own thing while baking. Look at those beautiful airy bubbles still in there – perfect!
Then put the lid back on your baking dish and pop er’ in the oven. If you are using a corningware dish or dutch oven, follow the instructions above. I’m using my cloche, so I will bake it for 55 minutes without taking the lid off.
Exactly 55 minutes later my bread was done and the house smelled fantastic. Whole wheat flour has a sweeter smell to it when you bake with it. Almost like a honey.
Hello my little friend. Welcome to my home. You and I are going to be great friends.
This bread is much heavier in it’s feel. We did use one more cup of flour in this recipe and a little more water, but whole wheat flour is much more dense. Your crust should still be nice and crackling, but you will notice it will only have about half as much as the white bread versions we have made so far. It’s just a different species.
Same as the other breads we made, let it completely cool for about 2 hours on a cooling rack. Don’t cut into it while it’s warm. You don’t want to release the steam before it does it on it’s own. Keep that moisture in there!
But once it’s cool and you do cut into it…..you can see how much more dense this bread is. It’s heavier in feel and texture, but the inside is still very moist and soft. This is also a little less airy, with less bubbles than you saw in the plain white loaves. This is normal and just the way whole wheat flour works.
This is the perfect kind of bread for spreading on a pate, or cream cheese, or just something a little heavier in general. It stands up beautifully to a loaded sandwich with lots of ingredients inside of it. That little extra firmness goes a long way in a sturdy sandwich!
Many whole wheat breads have a sweet taste to them, but personally I am not a huge fan of that so I add a tiny bit more salt to this recipe to keep it more on the savory side. If you like that hint of sweet, go less on the salt.
And as I have mentioned before, you only have about 2 days with this bread out on your counter, cut side down on a cutting board for it to be fresh for you. If you are not going to eat it in that time, you’ll want to cut in in half and wrap one part in plastic wrap and put it in a freezer bag and freeze until you need it. Then thaw it out completely unwrapped on your counter when you do. It will come back to life in no time.
I hope you have enjoyed these past few no knead bread recipes. A few lovely friends prompted me to write these few simple recipes and I hope that it’s motivated you to try bread baking in your own home and see what beautiful breads you can make yourself.
These 5 versions of a simple basic recipe are a staple in our home on a regular basis. I will eventually write about different types of more labor intensive breads such as rye and sourdoughs, but this is the bread that started it all for me. I’m thankful I came across it when I did because it prompted a love and talent I never even knew I possessed.
Because I need more bread in my life…..Like a hole in my head.
– The Homesteaders Wife