100% Whole Wheat No-Knead Bread
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Sometimes I still find it a little hard to believe that a crusty, hearty, whole grain loaf of bread can be made at home – without an overnight soaker or pre-ferment or spending 15 minutes kneading a very dense dough – at the expense of the health of my rotator cuffs and biceps. It takes only a few minutes and a few ingredients to put this 100% whole wheat dough together and you could even bake up a loaf after only three hours of rising if you wanted to – though the texture and flavor will be better if you let the dough hang out in the refrigerator overnight or even up to five days. You get kind of a sourdough thing happening the longer it ferments. This loaf works well right on a baking stone or you could use a loaf pan and have wonderful, healthy bread that’s just right for sandwiches.
100% Whole Wheat Bread
Makes 3, 1 1/2 pound loaves
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm soy or almond milk
1 1/2 tbsp. instant yeast
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
6 2/3 cup (or so) whole wheat flour
Mix the yeast, salt, agave nectar and applesauce with the water and soy or almond milk in a large food safe container. Mix in the dry ingredients and stir until everything is well-combined.
Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2-3 hours. The dough will rise quite a bit and then fall a little bit. After this happens, either use some of the dough immediately or put in the refrigerator for use later. The dough will be good for about five days.
When you’re ready to bake, take a large baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Sprinkle a little bit of flour over the surface of the dough in the container, then remove as much dough as you’d like (depending on the size loaf you want to make). Quickly shape the dough into a boule using more flour as needed, and place on the prepared baking sheet. (If using a baking stone, instead of lining the inside of a baking sheet with parchment paper as described above, turn it over and line the outside bottom – this way you can easily slide the dough/parchment onto the baking stone.) Cover loosely with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest for an hour and 40 minutes. You could also use a loaf pan – just lightly oil it first and place enough dough in the pan to come a little bit over half-full.
An hour or so into the rise, preheat the oven to 350F. (If you’re baking on a stone, place it in the oven at this time.) If not using a baking stone, just bake the bread on the prepared baking sheet – or in the loaf pan. Just before you’re ready to put the dough in the oven, sprinkle some flour over the loaf then quickly and firmly slash the loaf about 1/4″ deep using a serrated knife. I usually do a simple cross or parallel lines.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes. Baking time will depend on how large or small the loaf is – so be sure to keep an eye on it. Under-baking this bread will result in a gummy interior. Believe me, I’ve been there, and it isn’t good. I test by thumping the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow and isn’t soft, it’s done. Allow to cool completely before slicing and eating.
(This recipe is based on a one from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I replaced the oil with applesauce and used soy milk instead of dairy milk.)