Whole Wheat Country Loaf Recipe

by katerina on April 20, 2006

This is one of those accidents-turned-pleasant surprises. I started a loaf from my new fab cookbook (which yes, I am talking about far too much) and didn’t realize until it was too late that all I had was whole wheat bread flour. But it turned out really well and was easy in my fabulous mixer. I was super impressed with the crust – great for sandwiches or a healthy garlic bread. I can’t wait to try it with white flour.

This recipe requires a sponge, which apparently really helps the flavour develop. Because of this you need to prepare the sponge about 4 hours before you are ready to start. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for 1 week if desired. Not including the sponge this recipes takes anywhere from 4hours to 5 1/2 hours.

[print_this]Sponge:
1 1/2t active dry yeast
1C tepid water
1C tepid milk
2C whole wheat bread flour

1. Put water and milk in mixer bowl and sprinkle yeast over top. Stir. Attach the whisk, add the flour and beat on low for 1 minute.
2. Cover with plastic wrap or the plastic bowl cover and let sit for 4 hours at coolish room temp.

Dough:
1t active dry yeast
1C water, room temp
1T fine sea salt
4 1/2 – 5 1/2C whole wheat bread flour
Cornmeal for sprinkling on pan.

1. Fit paddle attachment on beater and put bowl with sponge back in place. Sprinkle yeast over sponge, then add water, salt and 1C of the flour.
2. Beat hard on medium speed for 1 minute.
3. Switch to low speed and add flour 1/2C at a time. When dough starts to thicken (about 2/3 way through flour) switch to the bread hook. Knead for 3 minutes on medium speed. A warning – watch your mixer carefully during this, this is dense flour and could potentially be hard on the motor. If you hear funny noises from the motor, stop kneading immediately and continue by hand. Also the dough should still be sticky at this point, don’t be tempted to add too much flour.
4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes. Put some muscle into it, you can slam the dough into the counter, it will help develop the gluten. If you need to add flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands or the surface do it 1T at a time.
5. Let sit on counter for 5-10 minutes to relax. Meanwhile prepare a container for rising by greasing it, I used the mixer bowl.
6. Give it another minute of kneading then place in greased bowl, turning to grease. Cover with plastic wrap or the cover and let rise until tripled in size about 1.5- 2 hours.
7. Punch the dough with a floured fist and knead in the bowl. Turn dough over. Cover again and let rise 45-60 minutes.
8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll dough out onto surface and divide in half. Knead each portion into a 7″ round, stretching the dough from underneath to make the surface really tight. Pinch the seam to close, it should be well centered on the bottom. Dust with floured and place on baking sheet.
9. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
10. 20 minutes before being ready to bake preheat oven to 425 putting pizza stone on the bottom rack and leaving room to put the sheet on top.
11. With a very sharp knife cut three parallel slashes 1/4″ deep in the surface of each loaf.
12. Put sheet on pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes, turn down oven and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.
13. Cool on a rack.[/print_this]



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