I first found this recipe four years ago and actually was not thoroughly impressed the first time I made it. Eventually I gave up on the original recipe entirely.
But don't stop reading there, because after a couple of years of trying to find the perfect whole wheat bread recipe, I realized that this recipe (even though flawed) was a great recipe to start with and build off of. I've made my adaptations and the recipe I am sharing today is my perfect version of 100% whole wheat bread.
It's light and fluffy, not dense. In my opinion it produces the perfect sized slices. I get kind of annoyed by bread that rises and bakes SO high that the bread slice ends up being the size of two normal slices of bread. It's a stupid pet peeve, I know, but the thing is you inevitably have to cut these tall breads twice as thick to prevent them from flopping over and breaking while you are cutting them. There are other reasons for my distaste for bread slices that are too large, but I will get off my soapbox now.
This bread is also perfect for sandwiches. Basically I love this bread. It's beautiful and perfect. I will be making it all year this year instead of buying bread. Oh and did I mention it tastes good too?
DISCLOSURE: For best results make bread exactly as directed below. Successful bread making definitely takes practice. I think you'll find that this recipe is fairly forgiving if you put forth your best effort and know-how.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
1 heaping tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon honey, divided
2 1/3 cup warm water, divided
5-6 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten*
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Activate yeast by lightly stirring it with 1/3 cup of the warm water (120 degrees) and the 1 tablespoon of honey. Set aside for five minutes. After five minutes it should be expanded and bubbly (this is how you will know that you have successfully prepared and not killed your yeast).
Combine 3 cups of the whole wheat flour and the vital wheat gluten in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add remaining 2 cups of warm water and prepared yeast. Mix on low speed for one minute. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. This step is important, as it will help make the bread lighter.
Add oil, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup of honey. Mix until combined. Remove whisk attachment and replace it with the dough hook attachment. Slowly add remaining flour one cup at a time until dough is still very soft (and even slightly sticky) but forms a ball and cleans the sides of the mixing bowl. When dough has reached this point, turn your mixer on high, cover it, and let the dough knead for 7 minutes (yes, 7 whole minutes). If you are kneading by hand, this will take 12-15 minutes. When the dough is done kneading, it should look smooth, elastic, and even a little bit shiny.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Spray two 8x4 inch or 9x5 inch bread pans with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly oil hands. Divide dough into two equal portions. Shape into loaves and and place one loaf into each of the prepared bread pans.
Place pans in preheated oven and let dough rise until it is doubled (20-25 minutes). When dough has risen, turn oven up to 350 degrees. Cook for 20-25 more minutes or until the tops of the loaves sound hollow when tapped (they will also be a dark golden brown). Immediately turn out of pans onto a cooling rack.
Makes 2 (1 lb) loaves.
This recipe can easily be doubled to make four loaves and it stores well in the freezer.
*Wheat flour has a smaller percentage of gluten than other flours. Adding vital wheat gluten helps give it a lighter, fluffier texture.
EXTRA BONUS: This bread takes 1 1/2 hours from start to finish.
Recipe Source: The Taste Tester, adapted from Dana Thornock
Shared here: Pin Me Friday @ Diana Rambles, One Creative Weekend @ Buns in My Oven, Strut Your Stuff Saturdays @ Six Sisters' Stuff, On the Menu Mondays @ StoneGable, Tuesday Talent Show @ Chef In Training