Homemade whole wheat is so delicious and nutritious especially when made from freshly milled wheat berries. The only problem is that many people encounter the same problem. They constantly create a small, heavy, and dense bread loaf. While the taste is still good it is too heavy and dense to truly enjoy eating. What are the secrets to tall and soft whole wheat bread? Try these five tips and see how your home bread making improves.
Use a Dough Conditioner
Put a store bought or homemade dough conditioner or enhancer into your dough when you are mixing it up before the kneading process. The dough conditioner will help keep the whole wheat soft and light and not dense and hard. It will also improve the rise and texture by boosting the work of the yeast. You can buy many dough conditioners from the store. You can also mix your own at home for a more frugal option. The recipe over at Chickens in the Road is particularly excellent. The rule of thumb is to add about one tablespoon of dough conditioner per cup of flour used or about three tablespoons per loaf of bread.
Allow Resting Times During Kneading Process
This step does add time to your bread making process but it is well worth the wait. After you have mixed up your dough and are ready to start kneading allow the dough to sit for fifteen minutes in the bowl. Freshly milled whole wheat flour takes a bit longer to absorb water than regular store bought flour and it needs that time to sit and absorb. If you skip this step you will find yourself needing to add extra flour to get the soft dough you need for rising. The extra flour will eventually lead to a denser and heavier loaf. Also, when you are kneading the dough allow a couple of five minute rest times for the same reason. Allow the dough to absorb more of the water before you add the extra flour. Remember, step away from the dough and let it do what it needs to do. You will be thankful for it.
Dough from freshly milled flour needs a lot of kneading. It will take a good ten minutes of active kneading time to get the gluten adequately developed for a soft and tall loaf. The good thing is that like tip number 2 said you build resting periods into the kneading. Try kneading for five minutes, let it rest for five minutes, and then finish up with another round of kneading for five minutes. The good thing is that you can go do something else while you wait.
Butter Loaves Right Out of the Oven
When the loaves are freshly out of the oven pop them out of their pans onto a wire cooling rack and butter them liberally. You can butter just the top or you can butter the entire loaf. Then allow the loaves to cool. The butter will not only make the bread extra delicious but it will make the crust easier to cut into when it is time to slice the bread.
Allow Baked Loaves to Cool Completely Before Slicing
This step is the hardest one to follow. Everyone wants to slice into a piping hot loaf of fresh from the oven homemade bread. It is only natural. But, you need to be patient. Slicing into the bread when it is still hot, while delicious, can cause the loaf to get out of shape. It will flatten out or fall to one side from the pressure of the knife and from your other hand stabilizing it. The hot bread needs time to cool off to allow it to firm up enough for slicing. Give the loaves a few hours to cool on the wire rack. If you made them in the morning wait till evening to slice or wait overnight if you made them in the afternoon or evening. It is hard to wait but worth it if you want tall, sandwich worthy slices.