Shelly’s Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

Ingredients

    Creating the Sponge
  • 3 cups lukewarm spring or filtered water, or water drained from cooked vegetables (especially potatoes!)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon bulk yeast
  • 3 tablespoons - 1/3 cup honey or brown sugar (strictly a matter of taste)
  • 4 cups Great River Stone-Ground Whole Wheat Bread Flour
  • Finishing the Dough
  • The remaining ingredients must be folded or kneaded in. If you are using an electric mixer, insert the dough hook to blend these in. If preparing by hand, fold in with a wooden spoon:
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or 3 tablespoons soft butter
  • 3 cups of Great River Stone-Ground Whole Wheat Bread Flour, one half cup at a time (plus extra for dusting hands and work surface)

Instructions

    Creating the Sponge:
  1. Measure water into a large bowl (one that holds about 6 quarts). Stir in the sweetener of choice and sprinkle yeast over the water. Allow to dissolve for a few minutes. Add the flour and beat about 100 strokes with a wooden spoon or, if using a mixer, beat about one minute. You should begin to see the gluten strands developing. Scrape the batter from the sides of the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set it aside for about an hour. After this time the batter will have become very elastic. When a spoon is dipped into the batter and lifted, you will see stretchy strands. The gluten has developed.
  2. Finishing the Dough:
  3. If not using a mixer, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface when it becomes too stiff to fold with the spoon. Knead the bread until it becomes smooth and elastic. Keep the work surface and your hands well floured. Kneading requires that you exert considerable downward pressure onto the dough with the heel of your hand, folding the far edge into the center and pressing. Turn the dough and repeat folding and pressing. Scrape the counter and incorporate scraps into the dough. Keep kneading until you no longer need to dust your hands and the surface to prevent sticking. The dough will be smooth and somewhat shiny. At this point, oil your mixing bowl and place the dough into it, turning it once to oil the top of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest undisturbed for 50-60 minutes. The dough should be nearly doubled in size. "Punch down" the dough with your fist, pushing bubbles out. You will almost deflate it to its previous size. Cover and let rise again until nearly doubled in size. (If you are in a hurry you can leave out this rising and move to shaping the loaves, but the bread will have a slightly coarser texture.)
  4. Shape the loaves, Final Rise and Bake:
  5. After the second rising in the bowl, remove the dough and cut it into two even pieces. Knead each piece several times until the dough has no noticeable large bubbles and is compact. Work the dough into an oblong about the length of your 5"x 9"x 3" bread pan. Seal any seams by pressing firmly. Place loaf, seam side down, in greased pan, pressing to distribute dough evenly. Cover the pans loosely with wax paper. Let rise until the center of the dough is well rounded above the top of the pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake 45 minutes. Foil may be placed loosely over top of loaves for the last 20 minutes to prevent over browning. Remove from the pans immediately. A perfectly baked loaf will be golden brown and have a hollow sound when "plunked" sharply with a finger. Allow to cool on a rack. It is hard to resist cutting a slice of warm, fresh bread, so go ahead and enjoy. Slices from the cooled bread will yield a cleaner cut.
http://www.greatrivermilling.com/shellys-whole-wheat-bread-recipe/