Fresh From Farmer Bob's Oven: Basic Whole Wheat Bread

Photo by Sue Frause

Farmer Bob's oven was busy over the three-day holiday. For Presidents' Day, he made a cherry pie on Sunday in honor of George Washington (not) cutting down the cherry tree. The next day, he tackled a new bread recipe, this one for Basic Whole Wheat Bread -- ideal for making sandwiches. 

As you can see from the photo above, the two loaves look almost award-winning (Bob thought they looked like a set of lungs!). And I have to say, the bread is equally tasty. I enjoyed some with dinner that evening and again the next morning. Fortunately, he took the second loaf into work, so I won't be tempted to keep sawing off slices throughout the day. 

Basic Whole Wheat Bread
(Click on for a printable recipe)

Makes two 9x5 loaves

1 cup (8 oz) warm (not hot) water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup (8 oz) mile - while, 2% or skim
1/4 cup (3 oz) honey
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 3/4 cups (13 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 3/4 cups (13 3/4 oz) whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon salt

Pour water into bowl of a standing mixer and sprinkle yeast over top. Let stand for a few minutes until yeast has dissolved. Stir in milk, honey and oil.

Add two cups all-purpose flour and salt, stir to combine ingredients. Add rest of all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Stir to form a shaggy dough. Let stand for 20 minutes to give flour time to absorb the liquid.

Using the dough hook attachment on a standing mixer, knead dough for 8-9 minutes. Alternatively, knead dough by hand against the counter. If dough is bubble-gum sticky against the sides of the bowl or counter add extra flour one tablespoon at a time, until it's no longer sticky. The dough is kneaded when it's smooth, feels slightly tacky, forms a ball without sagging and springs back when poked. 

Clean out the mixing bowl and film it with a little oil. Form the dough into a ball and turn it in the bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl and let dough rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled in bulk -- about 60-90 minutes. This dough won't double quite as dramatically as other recipes, but the dough should look visibly puffed.

Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and turn the dough out on top. Divide the dough in two and shape each half into a loose ball. Let the balls rest for 10 minutes.

Grease two loaf pans or film them with non-stick cooking spray. Shape each ball of dough into a loaf (see this tutorial for step-by-step instructions) and transfer to the loaf pans. It's important that the surface of the loaves be stretched taut; this helps them rise and prevents an overly-dense interior. Let loaves rise a second time until they start to dome over the edge of the pan, 30-40 minutes.

Heat oven to 425F about halfway through the second rise.

Slash tops of loaves with a serrated knife and put them in the oven. Immediately turn down the heat to 375F and bake 30-35 minutes. Finished loaves will be dark golden-brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove loaves from pans and let cool completely before slicing. 

Loaves will keep at room temperature for several days. Loaves can also be wrapped in foil and plastic, and frozen for up to three months.


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