Makes 1 large loaf
1-1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2-1/4 Teaspoons yeast
1-1/4 Cups warm water or milk (body temperature)
1/3 Cup Local Honey
¼ Cup Sunflower oil
1-1/2 Teaspoons sea salt
1-1/2 to 3 Cups Organic Whole Wheat Flour
In a large bowl, mix together the first four ingredients, using a whisk or spatula. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes. Stir in oil and salt. Mix well. Begin adding the additional flour, ½ cup at a time, mixing thoroughly as you go. You will need a strong utensil – like a wooden spoon – because the dough will start to become stiff. Stir in just enough flour that the dough is pulling away from the bowl, but still a little sticky.
Take the dough out and place on a clean, lightly-floured surface. With the heel of your hand, knead the dough in a smooth motion, pushing the dough away from you, then folding it over an repeating the motion in a rhythmic fashion. It helps to have music! If the dough gets a little too sticky, dust your hands with flour. If it feels dry and hard, wet your hands, and continue. It takes about 10 minutes of strong kneading for the dough to feel right. It should be smooth, firm, springy and slightly damp, like damp skin. When you poke your finger into the dough, it will spring back. The faster it springs back, the better.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball, and place it into a large, oiled mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic film. Put the bowl in a cozy spot in your kitchen – on the counter near the stove, on top of the refrigerator, or in a warm corner.
Let the dough rise for about an hour or longer, until doubled in bulk. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
When the dough has doubled, dump it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times. Now you’re ready to shape it into a loaf. There are two ways: 1) use a bread loaf pan, or 2) make a free-form loaf and bake it on a baking sheet or pizza stone.
- If you’re using a bread loaf pan, oil the pan lightly. Then, shape the dough into a log about the length of your pan. Roll and pat the log until it is smooth on all sides. Place the log into the pan. The dough should fill the pan about halfway. If it is a little larger, or smaller, don’t worry, it won’t matter. Cover with plastic film and allow to rise for about an hour, until it has about doubled in bulk.
- Lightly oil a baking sheet or pizza stone. Roll the dough into a ball by alternately folding and squashing the dough, and patting it into shape. Pinch together any cracks, and keep rolling it around until the dough is smooth. Place it on the sheet or stone, cover loosely with plastic film, and allow it to rise for about an hour, or until almost doubled in bulk.
Bake the loaf at 400 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is a dark, toasty brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it in the center. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and allow the loaf to cool completely – an hour or more – before slicing.
Stored in a Ziploc bag on the countertop, this bread should hold a week (if you can resist eating it). Otherwise, put it in the freezer. Bread freezes very well. You can take out a slice or two at a time, and it will only take 15 or 20 minutes to thaw, or it can be toasted. Enjoy!