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.

What’s Wrong With This Picture? School lunches stripped down.

I found this picture at stockxchng, a free photo source for internet use.  It was called “healthy school lunch” or something to that effect.  Take a close look at it.  A whole wheat sandwich.  Some fruit slices.  A granola bar.  A juice box.  A bag of cheetos.  Ok, well we all agree the cheetos aren’t healthy.  But the rest?  Do they or do they not make up a healthy lunch?

Today’s society would promote this as a healthy lunch.  We are told that whole grains, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and so on are good sources of nutrition.  And they can be.  The problem is, not all products are created equal.  Just because it is labelled whole grain doesn’t mean all the other ingredients are good.  And just because it has fruit in it doesn’t mean that it is healthy.  We need to go beyond that and read more labels.  Generally the rule of thumb is: the less ingredients the better and the easier to pronounce the better the ingredients are.  The exception being the Latin names for herbs etc. which I can’t pronounce for the life of me.  So let’s check out this lunch.  What exactly is wrong with it?

Whole wheat bread 

Check the label on your bread.  Does it contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS?)  if it does, your whole wheat bread has been demoralised.  HFCS is, among many other health problems, a leading cause of obesity.  Many breads, even ones labelled 100% whole wheat, contain HFCS.  Alternative: look for a loaf that contains a natural sweetener such as sugar or honey, which should be far down the list of ingredients, meaning that sugar is NOT a main ingredient in your bread. 

Processed meat
Processed meat contain nitrites, often contains HFCS, preservatives, and is high in sodium.  Is processed meat a good choice for a school lunch?  Absolutely not.  Alternatives: cooked meat, not processed meat.  Nut or seed butters (when allergies aren’t present).  Cheese.  Vegetables.  Cream cheese.  Low sugar jam.  Honey.  Butter.

Canned fruit slices.  These fruit slices are in plastic or metal containers that more than likely are lined with Bisphenol A  (BPA).    BPA, among other things, is a known endocrine disruptor and a potential carcinogen.  As well, cooked fruit contains less vitamins than raw fruit.   Alternatives: fresh fruit and/or vegetables. 

Fruit juice.  Fruit juice is fruit stripped of peels and pulp.  Peels and pulp are high in nutrients and fibre.  Therefore fruit juice, even 100% pure, is practically empty calories, high in sugar, and can cause dramatic blood sugar level spikes and crashes that interfere with learning and behaviour.  Alternative: tap water in a stainless steel container.

Granola bars
Most commercial granola bars are high in sugar.  If you consider that 4 grams of sugar equals 1 tsp of sugar, and you offer your child a granola bar with a sugar content of 16 grams of sugar, you are feeding her 4 tsp. of sugar in the bar alone, for a snack.  Add a fruit juice to that and you can expect her blood sugar to sky rocket and later, crash.  Alternatives: crackers and cheese, a cookie or granola bar (homemade is best) that is low in sugar. (Think 8 grams or less per serving).  Fruit. Dried fruit bars.  Nuts and/or seeds. 

Yogurt

Most people consider yogurt to be healthy.  The probiotics contained in active cultured yogurt are very beneficial to digestion and overall body health.  Ever checked the sugar content in a small container of flavoured yogurt?  The vanilla fruit ones can be between 20 and 30 g of sugar per serving!!!  That is the equivalent of 5-7 tsp of sugar in one little package of yogurt.  Also, the yogurt is in a plastic container which is likely made of bpa.  Alternative: plain yogurt sweetened with a drop of vanilla and a little bit of honey or jam.  Homemade yogurt is best: you can easily make homemade yogurt using simple ingredients such as milk, cream, and a tbsp of yogurt as a starter.  No additives, no colour, no artificial flavour, no preservatives or artificial thickeners.  Store in glass or stainless steel containers when possible.   

Now that I have stripped down that lunch box, what is left?  If you look at the alternatives, most of these will fit nicely into non-disposable containers to make for a litterless lunch.  Another favourite around our house is left-overs.  That healthy chili you made for supper?  The pancakes you made for breakfast?  Perfect for a lunchbox, and can be kept warm in a stainless steel insulated thermos.  So it all comes down to the ease of grabbing pre-packaged lunch and snack items versus the health and eco-friendliness of packing a low sugar, low salt, preservative-free, non-disposable lunch.  It’s more work, you betcha.  But it’s worth it.  Which will you choose?