April 30, 2010

Heart of Wheat Bread

This is a very good wheat bread, with a nicely textured crust.

Heart of Wheat Bread
1 cup bread flour
3 Tbsp. wheat germ
3/8 tsp. yeast
1 1/4 tsp. honey
1 1/3 cups water
2 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Combine bread flour, wheat germ, yeast, honey and water. Whisk until very smooth to incorporate air, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and cover with plastic wrap.

Combine remaining flour and yeast. Sprinkle gently on sponge, cover with plastic wrap and allow to ferment 4 hours at room temperature.

Knead dough on low speed 1 minute to form rough dough. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest 20 minutes. Sprinkle on salt, and knead dough until very elastic and smooth. Dough should be just sticky enough to cling slightly to fingers. If needed, add flour/water sparingly to obtain proper consistency.

Place dough in greased bowl, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Gently shape dough into rectangle on floured surface, and then fold gently into business letter. Replace dough in greased bowl, and allow to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Shape dough into a round, and place on parchment paper. Cover with large oiled bowl, and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 to 75 minutes. Dough is ready when a depression fills in very slowly. Preheat oven to 475ºF.

Prior to baking, slash bread with 1/4-inch deep cross. To bake bread, place 1/2 cup ice cubes in pan below the bread in the oven. Bake 10 minutes, and reduce heat to 425ºF. Bake another 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. (Rotate pan halfway through baking for even cooking.) If possible, place bread directly on pre-heated baking stone halfway through baking.

For an extra crisp crust, leave bread in oven for additional 5 to 10 minutes with door propped open after baking. Cool bread completely on wire rack.

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