Makes two large loaves, or two medium loaves plus a small third loaf.
1 Tbs yeast
2 and 3/4 c. warm water
3 Tbs. honey
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 c. dry milk
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. Wheat Gluten or 2 Tbs. Dough Conditioner
4 -6 cups of whole wheat flour
1.Mix together the 1 Tbs. yeast, 3 Tbs. honey, and 2 and ¾ c. warm water in in a sturdy mixing bowl or stand mixer, and let sit for 5 minutes. Before adding the honey, I spray the Tablespoon with spray oil, and that way the honey comes out very easily, instead of sticking to the surface. The mixture should foam a bit at the top - this lets you know your yeast is active and working. This particular picture has superman powered yeast on steroids - normal foaming is much smaller.
2.Add 3 c. flour, 3 Tbs olive oil, ½ c. dry milk, 2 tsp. Salt and 3 Tbs. Wheat gluten. This is the wheat gluten I use, or the dough enhancer if I don't have wheat gluten. Sadly, these cheap products come from Utah. In other places, without Grandma's Country Foods, you can get Wheat Gluten, but it's not as nicely priced. Still, you only use 3 Tbs every batch, so it lasts a really long time.
Mix with a stand mixer at a level 2 or 3(and the paddle), or with a handheld mixer on medium for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and the gluten has began developing. This has not been mixed long enough. There are still lumps.
3.By Stand Mixer: Change the paddle to a dough hook. Gradually add four cups of flour, mixing at a level 2. You will probably need more flour. The dough after four cups of flour. It needs more. I add about a half cup at a time after this, until it is ready. This probably has enough flour, but if as it's kneading the ball dissolves, just add another quarter cup or so, to keep it ball shaped. The dough does not technically need to form a ball - it is being kneaded regardless of its shape, but I like to have a stiffer dough for bread. Usually I will add another cup to cup and half total, but it changes from time to time. Making bread is not a science.When the dough is ready, it will spring back to a light touch, and be smooth and elastic.
4.By Hand: stop using the hand mixer, and change to a fork and then your hand, as the dough stiffens. Gradually add four cups of flour to the dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for 15-20 minutes. You will need to periodically add flour - at a quarter cup at a time. When ready, the dough should be smooth and elastic, and will spring back to a light touch.
5.Lightly oil a large bowl and the surface of the dough. Place dough in the bowl, cover with a damp towel or saran wrap (sprayed with spray oil) and let rise in a draft free place (I often use my oven during the winter, which I turn on to 350 degrees for 1 minute, turn off, and place the dough in there) until double in size, one to two hours. Sometimes, I'm lazy, and use the same bowl I made it in. But it'll rise farther if I don't.
6.Punch down the dough, and turn out and knead a couple of times. Cut the dough in half with kitchen scissors or a knife. Form two loaves. I do this by flattening out the dough with my hands, into a rectangle, than folding the two shorter sides into the center, until they barely touch. Then I pound this down with my hands, so it won't separate while cooking. Then from the top down I roll it up into a cylinder, squeezing it all the way so it will mesh together. This was the first time I used this method, so it looks a little ghetto, but it should be as long as your pan. I use really long pans from Ikea, that I love for making sandwiches, because then your slices aren't huge. If you have normal pans, you may have too much dough for them, in which case just make a small third loaf free form, and then lightly butter or oil a piece of tin foil, and put the loaf on that. You can bake the loaf on the tin foil - it's great for any free form bread you make, because then you don't have to wash up afterwards. If you make three loaves, and you don't need to make monster long ones because you have an IKEA bread pan, you shouldn't need to follow this method of shaping the loaves, but instead just make the rectangle, and then roll it up (with pounding it as you roll). Put the seam on the bottom.
Spray the pans with oil. Place the loaves in the pans, cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil (I reuse the same plastic wrap I used to cover the dough while it rose). Let the loaves rise until an inch above the pans. Turn the oven on to 375 degrees.
7.When preheated, cook the loaves for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and let cook for 20 minutes longer. Take the loaves from the pans (this should be easy, with the greased pan, but if they don't come right out, run a butter knife between the bread and the pan, and then turn over and bang on the bottom really hard, and that should do the trick). Let cool on a rack. I usually freeze one loaf, by wrapping it thoroughly in plastic wrap, and then a layer of tin foil. I let defrost either at room temperature, or in a moderate oven for 15 minutes or so, after first removing the plastic wrap, and then rewrapping with tin foil. The other loaf I wrap with plastic wrap, and keep at room temp. It will last for several days, and usually goes stale, instead of molding. I also keep the stale bread and use it for breadcrumbs in recipes.And voila! Yummy bread. Although there are a lot of steps, it does not not take that long - it's just a spread out process. And with a kitchenaid, it's almost totally hands off. Some people would see that as cheating, or missing out on the earthy goodness of dough in your hands. I just think as long as you end up with a great product, who cares how you get there? (Barring breaking any major laws or the ten commandments, of course).