100% Whole Wheat Bread (Celozrnný Chlieb)

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As my wife will attest, I love bread. There is nothing more satisfying than a slice of bread topped with green peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers. While white breads have their place, what I really crave is that flavorful crunchy crust and moist center that you find in a whole wheat loaf. These days it’s easy to find “rustic” breads thanks to local bakeries and chains such as La Brea. The downside is that many “whole wheat” breads are made partly with white flour. Store-bought bread can also be quite pricey, often even six dollars for a single loaf. Hence, for the past months, I’ve been experimenting with baking my own 100% whole wheat bread. It’s been a challenge! I even said that getting a whole wheat loaf that is not dense, dry, and sandy may be more difficult that qualifying for the Boston marathon. This was attempt #20 (or so). While not completely perfect (the loaf looks like a Frisbee), it turned out airy and moist so I decided to share the recipe with you. The total cost of ingredients is only around a dollar. In making this recipe, I used the lid of the Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven. I greatly recommend this product. It’s been in constant rotation in my kitchen since buying it few months ago. The skillet lid is great for any type of sautéing and pan frying, while the pot works great for making popcorn without burning it. Buying it through the above affiliated link is also a great way to support this site, as I receive a small percentage of the purchase price from Amazon.

Ingredients: 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1.5 cups warm water, tablespoon of yeast, handful of salt, caraway seeds (optional)
Prep Time: most of the day spent waiting for the dough to rise, slightly over an hour for baking

Mixing

Add 2 cups of whole wheat flour to a large bowl and then pour in 1.5 cups of warm water.
dough before autolysis dough after autolyse

Mix well and let sit for 30 minutes. This is known as autolyse and allows the dough to develop better flavors. Pictures show before and after photos.

Below is a video showing the consistency of the dough at this point:

First Rise

dough before rising dough after first rise

Now add about a tablespoon worth of yeast. I used yeast in bulk, but if using single use packets, use about 2/3, saving the rest. Mix in, cover, and let sit for about 2 hours.

Second Rise

after second rise

The dough should now be well risen. Stir until it collapses, cover, and let rise for second time. This second rise was for about hour and half.

Here is a video showing the dough after the second rise:

Seasoning

Next add about a teaspoon worth of yeast (or the rest of the packet), handful of salt, and optionally other herbs, such as caraway.

Kneading

We next knead the dough to better develop the gluten that gives bread its structure. This is typically done by dumping the dough onto a floured surface and repeatedly stretching and folding over with your hands. What I am showing here instead is the method I use, in which I do the kneading in the bowl using a wooden spatula. It seems to work just as fine and your hands stay clean.

Knead the dough by making a ball and then folding over from underneath. I snapped few pictures and also took a video of this process.

Third Rise

Next dust a baking pan (I used the lid of the Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven) and transfer the dough. Let rise once again, this time for about 30 minutes.

Baking

Towards the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 390F. Bake for around 80 minutes. I also placed in the oven another pan containing several ice cubes.
100% whole wheat bread with jam

The bread should just slide out of the skillet. Mine ended up looking like a Frisbee, but regardless turned out airy and delicious.

Here is a picture of one of the many previous attempts. It’s hard to see here, but this bread was more crumbly and sand-tasting, due to insufficient water content.

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