100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Recipe that rises like white!

I have searched for and tried MANY 100% whole wheat bread recipes.  I have ruined countless loaves, and wasted a lot of flour and money trying to make 100% whole wheat bread.  I have tried adding gluten, lemon juice, citric acid, soy lecithin and more to get nice-rising 100% whole wheat flour.  My family has eaten many a failed loaf.  Eventually, I gave up.  I accepted the “fact” that you cannot make 100% whole wheat flour that rises nicely without using strange ingredients and additives.  I settled for a recipe that was about 70% whole wheat and the rest white flour to make it rise.  The recipe never completely satisfied me though.  It was somewhat crumbly and just didn’t really cut it for a sandwich bread.

My mother-in-law came across a great recipe that made 2 loaves of bread, was made from 100% whole wheat flour, and it rose nicely.   I was very envious, but I didn’t want a 2 loaf recipe, I wanted an 8 loaf recipe.  And I didn’t think you could just straight out double (or quadruple) a bread recipe without using too much yeast/salt.  Since I couldn’t figure out how to double it, I started searching again for a good recipe.  I came across a recipe from Heavenly Homemakers that made 2 loaves, and called for soaking the flour first.  I was intrigued by all the good feedback she received and so I tried it.  I had to add significantly more water to the recipe but I was able to make it rise nicely.  My first success!

I contacted Heavenly Homemakers and she informed me that she had doubled it straight across with good success.  So I tried it and it worked beautifully.  I added some other good stuff like flax, hemp hearts and chia seed, and ended up with a recipe that works perfectly, every time.  I am still excited about it!  (Simple pleasures, you know!)  It makes 4 loaves, and I haven’t tried re-doubling it yet to make 8 but that is my next step.  I don’t want to be baking bread more than once a week.  ** I have now successfully TRIPLED the recipe!  15 loaves in one go!

Today my friend, who swears she has never been able to successfully make a yeast bread, white or otherwise, is visiting.  I had her make the recipe following my instructions.  The bread looks fabulous!

Here is the recipe:

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes 4 loaves
Ingredients:
  • 12 cups whole wheat flour, divided in 2
  • 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional) (ie. hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, sesame etc)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 c. liquid honey plus 1 tbsp.
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • water (see below for amounts)
Directions:

1.   Soak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours:

  •       6 cups flour in 5 cups warm water (If you are using freshly ground flour cut back to 4 1/2 cups.)
  •       Up to 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional)
  •       Cover with damp tea towel

Flour/water mixture shouldn’t be watery.  Water should just mix into flour without any excess.
Make sure there is no dry flour.  Add by the tbsp. if needed.

2.   Start sponge (half hour before starting):

  •       in 1/2 c. warm water, gently mix 4 1/2 tsp. yeast and 1 tbsp. honey until just mixed. Set aside.  Do not over-mix.

Sponge should be visibly active: bubbles forming etc. before adding to recipe.

3.   Melt 6 tbsp. butter.  Cool to room temperature.

4.   After flour is soaked and sponge is bubbly add to soaked flour/seed mixture:

  •       melted butter at room temperature
  •       sponge (should be bubbly with yeast obviously active)
  •       If you are adding extra seeds or grains you may need to add up to 1 cup luke warm (not hot!) water ONLY as needed.
  •       1/2 cup liquid honey (not hot!)
  •       2 tsp. salt (sprinkled in)

5.   Mix/ knead in 5-6 cups flour to right consistency.  (Stir in until it is too hard to stir, then dump on lightly floured countertop and knead in.)  Dough should feel pliable and not dry. Sprinkle counter top with small amount of flour as needed to prevent from sticking to the counter.  Knead for 15 minutes.

6.   Place dough in large, greased bowl.  Cover with a damp tea towel.  Place in warm (not hot!) corner on counter top.  Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

 

7.   Remove from bowl, punch down and kneed for 2 minutes.  Divide into 4 even sizes.

8.   Kneed each individual loaf.  Roll with a rolling pin and then roll up dough.  Pinch to make a loaf shape.  Place in greased loaf pan.  Repeat for all 4 loaves.  Cover loaves with damp tea towel.

9.   Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

10. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and smell amazing :).

11.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from loaf pans and cool completely on wire rack.  Brush tops with butter if desired.  It makes the loaf tops nice and soft.

Notes:

  • Any ingredients added to a bread recipe should not be hotter than luke warm (drop some water on your wrist.  It should feel the same temperature as your wrist) or you may kill the active yeast culture.
  • Bread rising time depends on room temperature, air pressure, altitude etc.  I am located at sea level.
  • Yeast amounts in a bread recipe can vary based on altitude. Click here for an altitude adjustment chart.
  • You can add 3 whole eggs to the ingredients to make the loaf more moist/chewy.
  • Make sure your yeast expiry date hasn’t passed.  Yeast can be too old to work properly.
  • If you aren’t adding extra nuts or seeds then don’t add the extra 1 cup of water unless it feels too dry.
  • I now have TRIPLED this recipe with great success!  I can make 15 loaves at one go :D
  • Click here for a video tutorial on how to knead bread.

Please let me know how this recipe works for you!  Feel free to share the recipe, giving credit where it’s due :).  Enjoy!

This recipe has been linked to Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #22, Our Simple Lives: Simple Living Wednesday Link Up, Turning The Clock Back: What’s Cooking WednesdayThe Morris Tribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #3, Whole Foods Wednesday #56, Fresh Bread Fridays and The Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

Waste Not, Want Not. 5 things you can do to reduce your household food waste.

As I wrap up my series on food waste, I have finally come to the good stuff: things you can do in your own home to make a difference.  It is estimated that American households throw away 14% of the food they buy, which makes 470 lbs a year or $600 a year.  What!  You just threw $600 in the garbage.
My children are food wasters.  Babies are notorious for throwing food.  Toddlers are notorious for playing with food.  Preschoolers are notorious for not eating the food placed in front of them.  My 8 year old son is now finally a good, tidy eater.  (hooray!)  My daughters are still great food wasters.   Bread crusts, meat, half-eaten apples, corn cobs… in other words, VERY GOOD FOOD.  But, unfortunately, not worthy of re-serving.  (My husband and I do a lot of that kind of left-over eating though… who doesn’t love a slice of bread slick with… not butter or honey, anymore…)  
But what to do with this food waste?  Sadly, many people pitch it in the trash.  We used to.  Things have changed now.  We grow a lot of our own food and can’t stand the sight of seeing it in the garbage bag.  The thought of this wasted food ending up in a landfill and turning to methane, a nasty greenhouse gas, is also disturbing.  Not to mention the money wasted in growing or buying this food.  There are alternatives, though.   Here are 5 options to help decrease household food waste.  They may not all work for you, but if you practice even a few of them, you will be decreasing your carbon footprint, saving money, and providing other living creatures with food. 
  1. Make a grocery list based on meal plans.  This will cut back on unnecessary food purchases that usually end up rotting in your fridge. 
  2. Grow your own food.  After labouring for hours in your garden you will find that you waste MUCH LESS of your own food.  “You eat those carrots!  I GREW those!” 
  3. Think: What do I have to eat rather than what do I want to eat?  Chances are you won’t feel like eating leftovers.  But are we really rich enough to throw out that food and buy more?  There are lots articles dedicated to meal planning with leftovers.  Here’s one to get you started: BBC Good Food: Leftovers 
  4. Compost your fruit and vegetable waste.  The garbage can is not the place for compostable food items.  These items will make fantastic soil someday if you use a composter or add them to a friend’s composter.  An extra step, yes, but worth the effort.   
  5. Raise your own chickens or save your food waste for your neighbour’s chickens.  The addition of chickens to our yard has singlehandedly cut our food waste down by about 95%.  Our chickens eat almost everything we eat.  Any food scraps we have, even smaller bones, we give to our chickens and they turn them into tasty, healthy, organic free range eggs.  They even eat egg shells which give them calcium lost in the original production of the egg.    Much less food waste heading to the garbage!  They also provide us with a wonderful, rich garden manure.   A good friend of mine, and a co-blogger on this site,  gave me her food scraps for my chickens all last summer.  She stuck them in a fridge until we connected, sometimes up to a week later.   She went out of her way to make a difference, and we valued the extra food for our chickens.  Urban chickens are legal in our city and this is becoming a norm across North America.  If you can’t have your own, maybe you know someone who does and can donate food to them. 
For the sake of your children, your health, the environment and your budget, make a change.  This change today will, in a small way, make a change for the next generation.  If enough people make these changes, it may also help stores and producers get a better grasp on how much food is really needed to provide for our country.  And if there is excess food, perhaps our government will find a way to help those in other countries who really and truly do not have enough to eat.  A small step, yes.  A huge difference.
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