I have struggled a fair bit in the bread making department and truly believed my success is limited to a decent loaf of 5 minute artisan bread (a nifty base recipe with endless varieties including amazing stecca, focaccia, and pull apart). This is the recipe that changed my bread making universe. The fact that it's wholewheat makes it all the more tasty!
So with a few exceptions, the general rule of bread making seems to be patience. Give the bread time to knead and develop its elasticity. Give it time to rise, then ruthlessly deflate, and rise again. I did something at the end I never thought I would do... I took a stick of butter and rubbed it all over the freshly baked loaf which melted ever so attractively and gets absorbed into the bread. Highly recommended indeed.
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 1/4 tsp salt
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the flour and stir to dissolve the yeast.
Add the flour and knead until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl for a goof 7 to 10 minutes by stand mixer.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8" log.
Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1" above the
rim of the pan.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning.
Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust.
Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
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