Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Diane's Whole Wheat Bread

I received some requests for my bread recipes (after my blog about doing without stuff at the grocery store), so here it is for those who want to give it a try. My family has been raised on this delicious, healthy bread!

Diane's Whole Wheat Bread
(makes 6 loaves)

8 cups hot water
1/2 cup fat (1 cube butter, olive oil, etc.)
1/2 cup honey
2 T. salt
2 T. instant yeast
23 (yep, twenty-three) cups freshly ground whole wheat flour (more or less)

Run tap water until it feels just hot to the touch (105 degrees). Pour water into the bowl of your bread mixer. Add fat and honey. Turn on the mixer and add 5 cups of flour while it is mixing. Add yeast. Continue to add flour until a dough has formed. Add salt.

As the machine mixes the dough, add more flour. The moisture content of your wheat, the weather, the temperature of your water, and many other variables will determine the exact amount of flour you will need, but it will be 23 cups of whole "white" wheat, give or take a cup or so. (If you use turkey "red" whole wheat, the amount may be as little as 18 cups.) As you add the flour, watch for a certain consistency of dough to develop that will make the best bread. You can test it by pressing your thumb into the dough after it has been kneaded. You can check while kneading, and if the dough feels sticky, but will not adhere to your thumb, you have the right consistency. Knead the dough for 9 minutes by machine (or 15 minutes by hand). Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for awhile (25 minutes works fine, but less or more is fine too). I have forgotten it for hours (more than once) and come into the kitchen to discover the bread dough had risen up out of the bowl and fallen out onto the floor. Anyway, that bread tasted great too!

You’ll soon be a pro on knowing exactly how much flour to add, but here are pointers. If you add too much flour, the bread will be too dry and heavy, and the sides will have a horizontal crack in them. If you do not add enough flour, the dough will be sticky and will rise but when baked it will cave in a bit and droop over the sides of the pan, unable to hold its shape. The perfect dough will rise and hold its shape firmly.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down with your fist and divide dough into 6 equal parts. Shape into a loaf by pulling the top smooth and tucking the dough underneath until you have formed a loaf shape. As you form each loaf, you may press the top of the loaves in a plate of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flaxseed, oatmeal, or breakfast cereal crumbs for added texture. Put loaf into well-oiled loaf pans and place in an unheated oven to rise for 25 minutes. You can test that the bread is risen sufficiently by poking your finger in the edge of the risen bread near the pan. If the poke stays indented for 3 minutes, it is ready to bake. I just trust the timer, as 25 minutes always works for rising time. Leaving the pans in the oven, just turn the oven on to 350° and let it heat up and bake for 35 minutes. The loaves will be nicely browned and hollow-sounding when tapped. Remove from pans to cool. Makes 6 yummy big loaves!

Here's some tips to make your bread-making more successful:

When baking whole wheat bread, use narrow loaf bread pans, rather than the wide loaf pans, because whole wheat bread is heavier and cannot sustain such a wide arch in the rising stage.

I use a wheat called "White Wheat" or Golden Montana wheat, which is a high protein wheat with a lighter color. This bread dough is light enough to make into cinnamon rolls or pizza crusts. If you use Turkey Red wheat, it will make an excellent hearty loaf of bread, but is too dense for other uses, in my opinion, unless you mix it with some portion of regular white flour from the grocery store, which I never like to do. So, I buy "white wheat" kernels.

For a more tender loaf, replace some of the water with the water left over from cooking potatoes. You can even add a cup of potato flakes to the dough while you are mixing it (which means you'll need a bit less flour).

Yeast is very temperature sensitive and can be killed if added to water that is too hot. Instant yeast should not be mixed in water. Using instant yeast, and adding it once a batter has been formed, has always been successful for me. My preferred brand is SAF Instant Yeast. Yeast and honey are friends. Yeast and salt are enemies (yeast growth is retarded by salt: that's why salt is such a good preservative as in beef jerky, pickles, etc.), so I add the yeast at the beginning of the process, after about 5 cups of flour is added. Then I add the salt at the end, after all the flour has been added, but the kneading is just starting.

You may add up to 2 cups leftover cereal (such as oatmeal, soggy corn flakes with the milk, etc.) to the dough with good results. Add it at the beginning with the water. If it is very wet, reduce the amount of water by 1/2 cup or so.

I know I am overly thrifty, but I save the crumbs from boxes of breakfast cereal, granola, nuts, and whatever else (rather than throw them out) and I throw them in the bread instead. Adds nutrition and variety, but most of all, it makes me feel very provident!

When shaping dough into loaves, or punching it down, just wet your hands by passing them under running water before handling the dough. It will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.

It really cuts down work to have a bread mixer. My favorite breadmixer is the Magic Mill Bread Mixer made by Electrolux (Swedish), which as been amazingly dependable. I've not had a repair ever on mine, and I've used it almost daily for 15 years now. I went through a bunch of mixers, before making the investment, but it has been well worth it!

I spray my pans generously with olive oil cooking spray so that the loaves pop out easily.

You can rub a cube of butter over the top of the hot baked loaf to make it shiny and tasty, and the crust soft, if you like. Or you can quickly pass the loaf of the bread (still in the pan and hot—straight from the oven) under a running stream of water. The water hitting the hot bread makes steam and will soften the crust. I like the crust, so I don't do either of these.

Rather than get out a cooling rack, I just tap the pan on its end hard enough to pop out the loaf of bread. Then I balance the loaf across the top of the pan, as a make-shift cooling rack.

Don't get too exacting. People have been making bread for thousands of years without a recipe. It is hard to make it wrong. The only tricky parts are 1) the yeast: making sure it is working and that you didn't kill it with too hot of water, or slow it down with cold water. You can see if the bread is rising, so that should be reassuring. 2) adding the right amount of flour so it is substantial but not overly heavy and dry, and 3) baking it at the right point, when the bread is risen enough to make a light loaf, but not over risen so it deflates in baking. You'll get this all right with practice. If it helps to know, I made toe-stubbing doorstops for the entire first year of marriage.

Best success—you'll be making good bread it no time!

P.S. If you want to learn more about my beloved bread mixer, you can get more info here. If you decide to buy one, I'll gift you my best-selling recipe book: Hopkins' Healthy Home Cooking ($14.99). Get that special offer here!



  • At December 15, 2008 at 4:39 PM , Blogger CompleteLee Blogger said...

    Sounds very similar to my bread recipe only I don't use a machine and I make 8 loaves at a time. I just love the feel of kneading dough! Your loaves look beautiful.

  • At December 16, 2008 at 9:00 AM , Blogger Kim said...

    Could you cut the recipe in half and still have success? My mixer won't hold 23 cups of flour!

  • At December 16, 2008 at 5:27 PM , Blogger Jessica said...

    Hi Diane! Where do you buy your wheat?

  • At December 17, 2008 at 10:16 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Sure, you can cut the recipe in half. I just am thrilled to be able to make the whole week's worth of bread with just one effort! I get my wheat from one of the grain companies. In Idaho, there is Honeyville, and also Walton Wheat, and others. You could do an internet search. There are food co-ops like Mountain People Cooperative and Tuscon Cooperative that will deliver your order in truck. Many of the health food stores have bulk grains in their bins, and will also order you a 50 lb. bag of grain if you ask.

    Best success making bread! It is really fun and tastes so good!

  • At December 27, 2008 at 6:24 AM , Blogger Amy Beth said...

    What are the dimensions of your "narrow loaf pans"? I have 8X4 & 9X5. I am hoping I can use my 8X4 pans. I got a wheat grinder for Christmas and opened our bucket of White Wheat we ordered from Walton Wheat. Any helpful hints you have for opening those buckets would be much appreciated. I have 6 more buckets of it.

  • At December 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM , Blogger Jessica G said...

    Ok I have to ask because I want to try thie recipe but I'm unsure what you mean by the 1/2 cup of fat. Could you give me a little more details. Thanks so much for your wonderful blog. :)

    Grace and Peace


  • At January 2, 2009 at 6:44 PM , Blogger littlehands said...

    Just wanted to add a few things. I have 2 Chicago Professional pans and a recipe that makes 3 loaves in my KitchenAid. I looked around and found that Pyrex makes a loaf pan that is the same dimensions (4.5" width)and it works just as great for half as much. I got it at my local WalMart.

    Also, I found that regular hard red wheat bakes up just as nice and fluffy as the white wheat when it's freshly ground. I can even use it in cookies and such.

    And, my favorite recipe includes eggs and 1/3ish c. wheat gluten for a 3 loaf batch. The wheat gluten really makes for a soft, fluffy loaf and the egg helps it keep it's arch and also rise faster.

  • At January 5, 2009 at 9:25 AM , Blogger 3Janes said...

    This is very similar to the recipe in the Deseret Cookbook that can be bought at the Distribution Center, only it uses around 12c of flour. MY QUESTION is this: do you know if you can buy a loaf pan the size of store bought bread? When I make the six loafer recipe it only lasts us a few days. The first loaf gets snacked til it's gone and the second loaf is gone with lunch (everybody eats PBJ for lunch every day-yes we really like it that much!) SO HOW DO YOU KEEP THE FAMILY FROM EATING YOUR BREAD ALL GONE???? :-))

  • At January 17, 2009 at 3:38 PM , Blogger crazymom said...

    Hey, thanks so much for the recipe!!! I can make this bread without adding white flour and it still comes out light!!! Thanks for the extra tips..that was key for me!

  • At January 20, 2009 at 2:24 PM , Blogger Carissa said...

    This is a great recipe! I cut it in half and it turned out perfectly. Thank you so much!

  • At July 26, 2009 at 12:15 AM , Blogger Tereza said...

    I love the mixer and if I had the money I'd buy it!!!! Your bread looks amazing and you make it sound so simple!


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