I can’t believe it’s June already. Maybe it’s because after a small and glorious spurt of sunshine, we’ve been back to grey cloudy skies for the last few weeks, so all of my summer anticipation disappeared. My grand plans to BBQ the bejeezus out of everything had to grind to a halt, since if I can’t BBQ it in a tank top, I don’t want to BBQ it at all. (Kidding. I’ll settle for a t shirt).
This is my last free weekend for a while before we have a slew of events happening, and I noticed with a small jolt of panic that my stock of frozen bread was running low. How can I survive without carbs at the ready at all times? Since I had ample time and my fiance has been sucked into a video game vortex, I tried yet another recipe on my search for the best whole wheat bread ever. Don’t get me wrong – I love white bread. We are besties. We adore each other. But for breakfast during the week, I try to stick to healthier options, so my caveat for a weekday bread was that it needs to be completely whole wheat. Do you know how hard it is to find a whole wheat recipe that doesn’t make you want to just put it down and go find that other, more deliciously pale bread instead? Hard. Very hard.
I’ve tried many recipes and often gotten pretty good results that I can definitely eat. (I don’t like to talk about the times where I couldn’t eat). This particular one, though, gave me a really fluffy light crumb and actual height in the rise. It’s soft, and while you know that it’s whole wheat because of its earthiness, it’s ok. You can be friends anyways. I foresee many happy carb-heavy mornings in our future.
(Yes, I did take a knife and just sit on the patio and eat this bread. No shame).
Whole Wheat Bread with Buttermilk
Adapted from The Laurel Kitchen’s Bread Book. Made 2 loaves.
- 2 tsp active dry yeast (7 g)
- 1/2 cup warm water (120 ml)
- 3/4 cup very hot water (175 ml)
- 1/4 cup honey (60 ml)
- 1 1/4 cup cold buttermilk (300 ml)
- 5 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (830 g)
- 2 tsp salt (11 g)
- 2.5 tbsp butter (35 g)
- Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Mix hot water with the honey, then add buttermilk. The temperature will be slightly warm.
- Stir the flour and the salt together and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast and buttermilk into the well, and stir from the center outwards, incorporating all the flour. After a certain point I just used my hands to knead it all together until it comes together into a shaggy dough. It should be slightly soft.
- (Optional) Let sit for 5 minutes to let the dough hydrate.
- In a stand mixer, knead with a dough hook on low-medium for about 6 minutes. Keep an eye on it – the dough wanted to stick to my dough hook and I had to scrape it down every once in a while. After it’s starting to look pretty pliable, cut your butter into tiny pieces and add it in. Go back to kneading on low-medium for another 3-4 minutes. You want the dough to be soft and smooth. Do the windowpane test to check if your dough is ready (google this if you have noooo idea what this is!)
- Form the dough into a ball and put it into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and keep in a warm, draft-free place. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
- Poke with a wet finger. If the hole doesn’t fill in at all, move on; otherwise let it keep rising. Deflate, form into a ball again, and let rise again. This time, rise for 45 minutes, then do the same test.
- Deflate the dough and divide it into two. Form each into a round and let rest for a few minutes. Form into loaves by patting them into rectangles, then rolling them up like a burrito. Pinch the seam closed and gently rock to smooth it out.
- Place each loaf seam-side down into a greased 8″ x 4″ pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise again until it’s doming at least an inch over the pan edge and the dough slowly returns a gentle fingerprint. For me, this probably took another hour. During this time, preheat your oven to 325F.
- Once your dough is tall and happy, bake for 45 minutes. You can test for doneness by giving it a knock and listening to see if it sounds hollow. It should be bronzed all over. Alternatively, use a thermometer. Mine was over 200 when I took it out.