My new go-to recipe for homemade whole-grain bread, formed into loaves for slicing and whole-grain buns for sandwiches. The recipe uses a high proportion of healthful whole-grain flour and still achieves that light and fluffy texture so many people like. If you're looking for a whole-grain roll recipe, this one belongs on your to-try list, especially for tender and delicious whole-grain dinner rolls.
May it please the Court of Bread Lovers, I submit that the state of American bread is one sorry, sorry, state and hereby submit into evidence:
Exhibit #1: At Christmas a few years ago, my dad ran to the grocery for bread and brought home sour dough Wonder bread. We made our sandwiches, the bread went into the bread drawer. Ten months later – I know, too long – there it was, still as ‘fresh’ as ever, no science experiment color, no sign of mold or aging. If it weren’t so creepy, I’d ‘wonder’ if bread might be a yeasty fountain of youth. (Photographic evidence? Scroll to the bottom of this recipe for another Whole Grain Bread from A Veggie Venture, my food blog.)
Exhibit #2: Last month, I bought a small loaf at the grocery, something quick for dinner. First, they fooled me. The label read ‘wheat mini loaf’ versus ‘whole wheat mini loaf’ so wasn’t even whole grain. How many of us make the same mistake? And then, the ingredient list was longer than the loaf. Bleached wheat flour (malted barley flour, niacin, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin), water, sugar, cracked wheat, yeast, wheat bran, salt, vegetable shortening (partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed, and/or canola oils), wheat gluten, cornstarch, soy flour, molasses, calcium stearoyl lactylate (CSL), dextrose, malt, corn flour, calcium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monodiglycerides (datem), carmel color, ammonium chloride, ascorbic acid, calcium carbonate, malt barley flour, soy oil, enzyme, calcium peroxide, azodicarbonamide (ADA), lcysteine, isolated soy protein, sodium phosohare, lecithin, soybean oil, carrageenan, mixed tocopherols added to protect flavor. Yikes, is all that necessary, just for bread? The price? $.12 an ounce.
Exhibit #3: So then I bought a loaf of ‘good’ bread, a so-called ‘Artisan Multi-Grain Flax & Honey Bread’ at a brand-new high-end grocery but had to ask, special, for an ingredient label. Hmm, was it whole grain? I don’t think so, not from the label. But the ingredient list was shorter, just Water, enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, barley malt, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), whole wheat flour, rye flour, molasses, sugar, oats, sunflower seeds, millet, flax seed, contains 2% or less of: honey, salt, yeast, cracked wheat, lactic acid, sea salt, cultured wheat starch, ascorbic acid. For this bread, the price was 25 cents an ounce, more than twice as much. The taste? Okay. And sure, I could go to a bakery with good bread, I’m lucky to have one up the road. But it’s an extra stop and is closed after six and Sundays. Plus the bread is expensive, $6 a loaf.
Exhibit #4: During a road trip into the American West this summer, we ate three meals a day out, no fast food, local places only, some times a little upscale, mostly not. Only once was the bread was worth eating, a splurge at a pricey place with all-around fabulous food. Otherwise? White bread, soft and smudgy, tasteless and forgettable.
Your Bread Honors? I rest my case.
ABOUT THIS RECIPE As a country, we like our bread white and soft. So I set out to find a whole-grain bread recipe that’s not white, sorry, but a lovely pumpkin-tinged brown but whose texture has a tender satisfying texture. Plus the flavor is so good! I must say, I’m hooked on this bread, I’ve made it a half dozen times in the past couple of months, playing with the basic recipe. It's become my go-to recipe for whole-grain bread, especially since it's such a forgiving bread dough. When family is arriving from out of town, I'll mix up a batch the morning of arrival, we'll have hot soup and small rolls hot out of the oven the first night, then use larger rolls for lunch sandwiches the rest of the week. Often there's time for a loaf of Autumn Pumpkin Bread too, finishing the can of pumpkin!
RECIPE for LIGHT ‘N’ FLUFFY
HOMEMADE WHOLE-GRAIN BREAD
Time to table: 3-1/2 – 6 hours
Makes 2 loaves or 1 loaf and buns (see TIPS)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup olive oil or melted butter
- 1/3 cup molasses or sorghum
- 1/3 cup 100% pumpkin purée (see TIPS)
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 4 cups whole-wheat flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring (about 567 grams), (see TIPS)
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring (about 344 grams)
- If needed, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Olive oil, for greasing & brushing
MIX In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar and water. Let rest until frothy.
In a large mixing bowl (or a standing mixer with the mixing beater), combine the buttermilk, olive oil, molasses, pumpkin, water, egg and salt. Gently blend in the yeast mixture. Add the whole-wheat flour and combine well, scraping down the bowl and beater as needed, for about 3 minutes.
(If using a standing mixer, switch to the bread hook.) Add the all-purpose flour and combine well, scraping down the bowl as needed, for about 8 minutes. A large, firm dough ball should form. If it’s soft, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time; if it’s too firm, add water, a half tablespoon at a time.
FIRST RISE Rub the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough ball to the bowl, rubbing it against the sides of the bowl to coat the entire ball. Cover loosely with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, 1 – 2 hours. With a fist, press into the dough two or three times to deflate.
FIRST RISE in the REFRIGERATOR, OPTIONAL A slower rise encourages flavor development so I have started to mix the dough one evening, let rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight, then bake in the morning. The second rise will take longer than usual, however, since the dough starts off quite cold.
SHAPE & SECOND RISE Rub baking dishes with olive oil. Form two loaves or one loaf and medium-size or small buns. (To form a bun, cut off a small piece of dough, wrap it around itself so that the top side is smooth, the bottom side is the crease; place crease-side down on the dish, leaving space between.) Cover the baking dishes with a clean towel and let rise again, 1 – 2 hours.
BAKE Preheat oven to 375F. Bake loaves for about 35 minutes, medium buns for about 20 minutes and small buns for about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush tops lightly with olive oil. Let cool.
STORE Wrap bread tightly and keep in cool spot. Bread stays fresh for four or five days.
ALANNA’s TIPS Some times I cut the dough in half and make one loaf and 16 medium-size buns. Other times, I cut the dough in thirds and make one loaf (good for Fried Bread), 8 medium-size buns (good for sandwiches) and 16 three-bite mini buns (great for serving alongside a salad or a cup of soup). The choice is yours! I settled on pumpkin for the 'plant life' that gives this bread a special moisture and 'alive' taste. But the original recipe called for a carrot ground in a blender with a cup of water, it's great. So was a batch made with sauerkraut blended with water. If you keep baby food on hand, it would be especially convenient. Ask your local bakery about its whole-wheat flour. I buy ground-yesterday flour from Great Harvest, other franchise locations may sell it too. It keeps in the freezer for several months. NEW For 100% whole-grain bread, use all whole-wheat pastry flour, it makes especially light and tender rolls.
More Favorite Homemade Bread Recipes
With Good Homemade Bread on Hand, You Can Make
from Kitchen Parade
Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar
from A Veggie Venture
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