Step-wise picture recipe to make 100% whole wheat bread aka homemade brown bread easily at home. No additives, no preservatives, no special equipment. Simple ingredients and a very simple approach to making whole wheat bread at home.
It may seem like I have given a break to my bread baking recipe series but in reality, it is not true. Over the last few weeks, I have made more whole wheat breads than we could consume (happily!) and I had to be absolutely sure of the recipe before actually putting it out here. Would you believe if I said I tried as many as 6 different approaches/methods to perfect this 100% whole wheat bread? In the end, I have learnt quite a lot (and of course that involved getting over the heart break of not having a perfect loaf too!) and this post is going to be all about that!
As I had been having a lot of success with breads/loaves made from all-purpose flour or a combination that involved both all-purpose flour and wheat flour, I thought it was time to do a 100% whole wheat bread at home. This homemade brown bread in my mind was so perfect, with earthy flavor of wheat, soft with a nice crumb – almost as good as something we find in a bakery rack. But in reality, it is not that simple at all. And there are many reasons for it.
The first one being – the whole wheat bread or brown bread from a store has added gluten (read the contents next time!) and that just makes it nothing but a bread made with white flour/all-purpose flour. The whole idea of making/buying a brown bread/100% whole wheat bread is to avoid the extra gluten. But get this – it is traditionally not possible to get a good raise or nice crumb without gluten. So wholesale manufacturers take the easy route. The next hurdle in getting this right without added gluten is finding the right kind of wheat flour. In my initial attempts, I used regular Atta that we Indians use to make rotis and it was mostly disastrous. The texture of the wheat flour should be little grainy so that it can hold moisture and bake into a soft, nice loaf. I finally settled in for 100% organic atta that worked out just fine. I am still in search of the perfect flour, or a flour mill that understands my needs.
The last part being – a 100% whole wheat bread is supposed to taste earthy or a slightly dense and will surely not raise as well as a loaf made with all-purpose flour, especially if there is no added gluten. The best approach would be choose a baking pan that is compact enough (choose a size smaller than what you would use for an APF loaf) and ensuring that it is a proper rectangle without slanted walls – this is essential to get the loaf double up properly. Apart from that, the climate does play a bigger role in activating the yeast too! The base recipe is adapted from here and it uses an approach called as Autolyse that is so popular for whole grain breads and it helps develop such an intense flavor in the bread. I would surely prefer this anyday than the fake brown bread from store!
How to make Homemade Brown Bread | 100% Whole Wheat Bread –
(1 cup = 250ml, 1 tbsp = 15ml, 1 tsp = 5ml)
Detailed step by step picture recipe of making Homemade Brown Bread | 100% Whole Wheat Bread –
1. Sponge is made to activate the yeast and breakdown the sugar in whole wheat flour. In order to make the sponge, mix all the ingredients mentioned under the sponge and mix well for 2-3 mins. The gluten will begin to form and the mixture will be stringy. Set this aside for 30-60 mins until it has doubled (or tripled) up in size.
2. To this sponge mixture, add 2 cups of whole wheat flour along with salt and oil. If required, add 1 or 2 tbsp of warm water and mix it well. The dough should come together.
3. Now knead this dough until it is smooth and bouncy. When a piece of dough is stretched, it should not break for 2-3cms.
4. Place this dough in a well-greased bowl and cover it cling film.
5. Leave this in a warm place for 60-90 mins until it has doubled up in bulk. Gently punch it down and knead again for a min or two.
6. Now roll this dough into a rectangle (depending on the baking tin’s size) and fold the ends inside.
7. Begin rolling tightly from one side and seal it at the center.
8. Place it sealed side down in a greased (and lined) baking tin. Mine is 8×4 inches in size, although 9×4 or 9×4.5 inched bread tins should also work (although the bread might not be as tall)
9. Leave it again for 30mins or more until the bread has doubled up.
10. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180° C for 30 mins or more until the bread is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-7 mins. Remove the bread from the tin (to avoid moisture and in turn bread turning soggy) and keep it covered it a kitchen towel until cooled down.
11. Let it cool down completely before slicing. Stays good for 3-4 days outside or a week in fridge.
- I used 24 Mantra’s organic whole wheat flour which is not very fine and slightly coarse.
- The amount of water required while making the dough may vary depending on the flour used. Adjust accordingly.
- Make sure the dough is doubled up every time it is proofed. I have proofed it three times.
- If the top of the bread is not colored as much as you would like, apply a coat of butter or oil and keep it on toast mode for 3-5 mins for even browning on top.
- Oven timings vary for different makes of ovens. Keep a close eye on the bread while baking.
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