Best Whole Wheat Bread Ever

3 3/4 cups warm water (110 deg)
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp dough enhancer
2 tbsp wheat gluten
9-11 cups whole wheat flour
(I've started adding a 1/2 cup ground flax seed and 1-2 cups of rye four in place of the wheat flour.  The flax has Omega-3 fatty acids and rye is a good source of fiber and iron.)

Mix water and yeast

Add oil and honey.  If you want Honey Whole Wheat Bread, double the honey.
Pour the oil in your measuring cup first and then the honey and it will all slide out nicely.

After a few minutes the yeast will start to foam.
That way you know if it is alive.

Add the salt, dough enhancer and gluten.
Why add dough enhancer and wheat gluten?
Dough enhancer helps preserve the bread and makes is nice and fluffy.
Gluten helps make the bread elastic, giving it a nice chewy texture.  It also helps the bread to rise properly, keep it's shape and prevents it from crumbling. 
Wheat flour doesn't have a high gluten content so you will end up with crumbly bricks.  Blah.

Now we add the flour.  I grind my own wheat each time.
I use hard red (on left) and hard white wheat (on right).

The amount of flour you use will vary each time.
On very humid days, you'll use more.  On hot, dry days it will be less.
After 10 cups of flour (5 of each), the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
It's still sticky but don't worry.  If you add flour until it's not sticky, you will have added too much and the result will be a hard, dense brick.

Now we mix for 10-12 minutes.  This activates the gluten.
If you don't mix long enough, your bread will crumble to bits.  And that's no good.

A lovely lump of dough.

Now cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise about 1-2 hours.

Until it looks like this!

Now turn it out onto your counter and cut it into loaves.


You don't have to weigh it, but I like to.  I think it cooks more evenly when they are the same.
Two loaves are around 2 1/4 lbs.  Three loaves are around 1 3/4 lbs.

Here's a fun trick.  When you spray your pans, put them on the open door of your dishwasher.  That way any over spray will get washed off next time you run it!  No mess!!

Now shape them in to lovely loaves and put them in your pans.  I got mine from IKEA.  Love that place!
You may be wondering what happened to the third loaf.
Well, I tried to make hot dog buns, but they came out very sad and I don't want to show you.

Moving right along.  Here are our pans of bread and the hidden hot dog lumps.
Cover and let rise until the loaves reach the top of your pan.  Then preheat your oven to 350 degF.
When it comes to temperature, the loaves will be ready to bake!
Bake for 25 minutes.  Tap on the top when it's done.  It should sound hollow.

Cool on a cooling rack.
I tip my pans sideways to cool.  That allows the steam to escape and it helps loosen the bread so it doesn't stick.  After about 5 minutes turn them on the other side.  Wait another few minutes then gently pull the bread out.

And presto!!  How beautiful is that?!?!
If you want, you can butter the tops, but I don't bother.  It does taste really good though!

The reason I make 3 loaves is because we end up devouring one right out of the oven.
Then one goes in the fridge and the other goes in the freezer.  They should fit nicely in a gallon zip bag.

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