Whole Wheat French Style Loaf

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I have been making homemade bread for several years now. Over this time, my husband and I have several recipes that we have perfected. My favorite of all our bread loaves is the Whole Wheat French Style loaf. I enjoy this loaf because it is free-form so it can be sized to fit our needs, it freezes well, and it has great texture and flavor. This recipe was adapted from James Beards’ Beard on Bread. The original recipe is a white style loaf and calls for white sugar. This adapted recipe now uses whole wheat flour and I have omitted the use of white sugar. I typically make several loaves at once, allow them to cool completely, and freeze in a clean pillow case. Below you will find the written instructions and a video of the bread making process.

What you’ll need:

1 ½ T. yeast

2 cups warm water (between 100-115 degrees)

3 T. honey

5-6 cups whole wheat flour

1 T. salt

1 T. olive oil

2 T. cornmeal

1 T. egg white

1 T. cold water

The process:

Combine the yeast with the warm water and honey. Mix well and set aside until a frothy head forms.

Meanwhile, prepare your stand mixer with the dough hook. If you are not using a stand mixer, a large bowl and wooden spoon will work just as well. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt.

Once the yeast mixture has formed a head, pour into the bowl of your stand mixer. Working with one cup of the flour mix at a time, add the flour to your yeast and combine on the slow mix setting. If you are using a spoon and bowl, stir in one cup of flour at a time.

After all the flour has been combined (or the dough looks well combined and stops picking up flour), pour the dough out onto a well floured surface. Knead until the dough has a silky texture. To knead, push out one corner of the dough, fold it back in, turn the dough, and repeat. The dough may begin to blister on its skin, this is another sign it may be ready to rise. To check for the dough’s readiness, poke the dough with two fingers. It should spring back. If it does not spring up, it is not ready, and continue kneading.

Once the dough is ready for the first rise, roll into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. I typically lightly sprinkle olive oil in a bowl and roll the dough to coat. You can also use butter. The purpose of this is to coat the dough in a fat so a crusty skin does not form during the rising process. Cover the bowl and set in a cool place to rise. Allow the dough to double in size. This can take from 1-2 hours depending on the temperature. I typically place the bowl in a cold oven to rise.

After the dough as completed its first rise, pour the dough ball onto a floured surface. Divide the ball into the number of loaves you would like. I typically make 2 large loaves or 4 smaller loaves. Working with one section at a time, flatten the dough piece into a long flat rectangle using the tips of your fingers. Next, roll the dough into a cylindrical shape and fold the ends under. Place on a board or cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and set aside. Repeat this process with the remaining dough pieces.

Once each piece has been shaped into a loaf, place in a cold oven to rise for 30 minutes. If you are using a bread stone, you can place the loaves directly onto the cold stone. If you will be using a baking dish, you may place the entire cookie sheet into the oven for the rise.

While the dough rises, combine the egg white and cold water. After the 30 minutes, slash each loaf with a bread knife to prevent it from cracking during baking. Then, brush each loaf with the egg wash to create a crisp, dark crust.

Close the oven. Turn the temperature to 400 degrees and bake 20-30 minutes. Check the loaves after 20 minutes and set additional time accordingly. It is better to add time than to cook the loaves too much. If a loaf is finished, you should be able to turn it over, knock on the bottom, and hear a hollow sound. If it does not sound hollow it is not finished baking.

Once baking is complete, allow to cool completely before cutting or freezing. To freeze a loaf, place in a clean pillowcase, twist closed, and place into the freezer. To reheat, wrap a loaf in aluminum foil (I have one set aside that I reuse each time I reheat a loaf) and bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Loaves last for up to 2 days.

Results: Quick, convenient, and easy! I know this looks like many steps, but the process is rather quick. If you make multiple loaves at once, bread making could be a bi-monthly activity and not take up too much of your time. Reheating the frozen loaves lets you have fresh tasting, warm, home-made bread any night of the week.

How did yours turn out?

 

 

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12 Responses to Whole Wheat French Style Loaf

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  2. Maureen says:

    I made this bread today. Very yummy! Your video was very helpful….thanks for sharing!

    • brookeO says:

      I’m glad you found it useful. How did your bread turn out?

      • Maureen says:

        It turned out really good. I did two smaller ones and one bigger one. The bigger one came unrolled a bit, so I’ll have to make sure I do a better job with that next time….but it still tasted AWESOME!

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  4. emily says:

    i am making this bread at this very moment, emailing with an “oh no!” – i only have 1 T. of yeast, instead of 1.5 T. of yeast. should i cut back on the cups of flour? i already poured the yeast into the water & honey.
    thanks so much! maybe you will have a fast reply, otherwise i will improvise.

    • brookeO says:

      If it is fresh yeast you should be fine. I buy in bulk and it gets a old sometimes. Just be sure to let it double in size, which could take a bit longer. I’ve definitely gotten by with less. Let me know how it turns out!

      • emily says:

        thanks so much, that is reassuring! it made a nice dough but we’ll see about the rising.. i will let you know, complete with photos :)

      • emily says:

        so my bread had to rise about 2.5 hours and then almost an hour on the second rise, and i believe 45 min in the oven… it was pretty dense but it’s definitely delicious and edible, i can taste the honey notes and i’m sure it’ll be wonderful toasted. i made two loaves this size:
        http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v11/starsinyoursky/janbread1.jpg

        texture: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v11/starsinyoursky/janbread2.jpg

        what could i do better next time?

        • brookeO says:

          I don’t know for sure, but I have a few thoughts. 1) Double check to be sure your water was the right temperature. Something too warm will begin to kill your yeast and something too cool will not activate it enough. This would effect rising. 2) Make sure the yeast proofs. It should look very similar to a freshly poured beer after about 5 minutes. 3) Be sure you kneaded the dough enough. I can’t put a time on it, but the dough really develops a silky texture and then begins to dimple on the surface. 4) You may possibly need a little less flour. Next time, add the flour gradually. When the dough is no longer sticky and will not absorb the flour that is probably enough. You may also want to try making bread with high gluten bread flour the first time or two. I have found this flour to be more forgiving and it might help you feel the dough at the different stages before you begin to use other flours, which can be more difficult to work with. But honestly, if I were you, I would just try again now that you have done it once. The first time I try things I pay more attention to not missing a step and the second time I feel like I am able to give the food more attention. Enjoy your bread! I agree it will make great toast.

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