BRYANNA'S NO-KNEAD BASIC TENDER 100% WHOLEWHEAT BREAD

Yield: 2 loaves

(You can double this recipe to make 4 loaves, but DO NOT double the yeast! If you halve the recipe to make only one loaf, use only 1 teaspoon of dry active baking yeast or 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast)

IMPORTANT NOTE! Before making this recipe, get an inexpensive oven thermometer and test the heat of your oven. Many ovens are as much as 100° off, even new ones! If it is seriously off, have it calibrated by someone from a company that sells and fixes stoves and ovens. Otherwise, you may have to adjust the temperature up or down when you bake.

3 1/2 cups very warm potato cooking water

OR use warm water water plus 1/4 cup instant potato flakes (you can get the organic variety)

1 Tbs sweetener of choice (I use organic sugar)

1 1/2 tsp. (1/2 Tbs.) dry active baking yeast (please DO NOT increase this amount!) OR 1 tsp. instant yeast

1/4 cup ground flax (optional) (use golden flax, if you like)

1 Tbs sea salt (please DO NOT reduce this amount or leave out-- salt is important to regulate rising, as well as for taste)

2 Tbs oil (I use olive)

7 cups whole wheat flour (Canadian all-purpose whole wheat flour has a higher gluten content than US; use bread flour in the US; use hard white whole wheat flour if you like) (If you grind your own, 4 1/2 cups hard wheat kernels [red or whitevarieties] will mill into just about this amount of flour)

OPTIONAL: raw sesame seeds to sprinkle on the bottom of the pan

NOTE: Why use potato water? Well, for one thing, it's a good use of water from cooking potatoes. But, seriously, the potato seems to help make 100% whole wheat bread nice and light-- I'm not sure why.

TO MAKE THE BREAD:

Dissolve the yeast in the potato water or water with potato flakes, along with the sweetener in a large bowl. When bubbly, mix with the remaining ingredients and then stir in the flour, using a Danish dough whisk or a heavy wooden spoon.  The dough will be soft and rough looking-- don't worry!

 

Cover the bowl with a disposable clear plastic shower cap (TIP: I get a pack of 8 of these for $1 at my local dollar store—very useful for covering bowls in the fridge, etc.), a snap-lid or plastic wrap (or place the whole bowl inside of a new small white bin-liner-bag and twist-tie it, leaving room for rising), and let rise AT LEAST until it rises and collapse (2-3 hours), but preferably for about 12 hours on the counter at normal room temperature. (I think the longer rise makes for better flavor and texture.)

 

You can place the dough in the pans right away, if you like, but it’s easier to handle when it’s cold, so you can place the covered bowl (let the gas out if you use a snap-lid) in the refrigerator for up to a week or so.  (When I made this batch, it was only refrigerated for about 1 1/2 days.)

Either way, when you are ready to bake, shape the dough into 2 loaves (they will look a bit loose and sloppy, but not to worry!) and place in greased 8-8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans. (If you like, sprinkle the bottoms of the pan first with a few raw sesame seeds. My husband always does this and it lends a little extra something to the flavor!) Pat down on the top of the loaves with a wet hand to make the surface even.

Cover the loaves loosely (you can place the pans inside of a new small white bin-liner-bag and twist-tie it, leaving room for rising, or use the plastic shower caps) and let the COLD loaves rise about 2 hours, or the un-refrigerated dough rise for about 40 minutes, or to the top of the pans or slightly rounded over the tops of the pans.

If you want to try using my husband's unique baking technique, which makes a moist bread with a nice crust, preheat oven to 480 degrees F with convection, 500 degrees F without convection.  If you can’t be bothered changing the temperature during baking, just heat it to 375ºF!

Using my husband’s technique: just before baking, spray the loaves with water from a pump-sprayer (this helps you get a nice "oven-spring"). Place the loaves in the middle of the oven, and bake for 5 minutes. IMMEDIATELY LOWER HEAT TO 400 degrees F with convection, 410 degrees without (if you are baking 4 loaves at once, make the temperature 410 degrees F with convection, 425 degrees without), and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

If you are using the usual baking technique: Bake at 375ºF for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown.

TIP If you like a shinier crust, rub the top of the loaves with a little vegan margarine (Barth Balance).

TIP: Either way, if your oven heat is uneven, switch the loaves around to different positions after the first 10 minutes at the lower temperature. Remove the loaves from pans immediately and cool on racks before slicing.

Turn the loaves out onto racks to cool thoroughly (loosen the sides with a table knife, if necessary).