Whole Wheat Bread with Home Milled Flour

Home milled flour allows an absolutely fresh and natural product. Because it is not subjected to commercial treatments, however, it's a little trickier to produce a nice, soft sandwich loaf. This recipe uses an autolyse period to help the more coarsely ground flour absorb liquid fully and begin gluten development, and ascorbic acid, which improves gluten formation and elasticity, to compensate for the fact that the flour wasn't aged.

Ingredients

For 2 loaves
  • 640 ml (640 ml) milk
  • 2 tbs butter, softened
  • 910 g (7 cups (approximately) ) whole wheat flour, freshly milled
  • 1 pinch ascorbic acid
  • 1/2 tsp diastatic malt (optional)
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp instant yeast

Steps

  1. Scald the milk. Add butter and allow to cool to lukewarm (110 °F).
  2. Stir the ascorbic acid and diastatic malt into the flour.
  3. Combine the milk and flour mixtures and stir together until a rough dough forms with no unincorporated flour.
  4. Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the honey, yeast, and salt over the bread and mix in.
  6. Knead about 10 minutes (or 5 minutes in a mixer), until dough is supple, elastic, bounces back when pressed, and passes a windowpane test. This dough is somewhat soft and slightly sticky because it has more liquid than most sandwich breads, which the bran absorbs.
  7. Add about 1/2 tsp oil to a clean bowl that is at least three times the volume of the dough. Form dough into a ball and place upside down in the bowl, coat with the oil, then flip dough over to coat the underside.
  8. Cover bowl and let dough ferment. Dough should rise to about 2 1/2 times its original volume. It should still have a domed top but should not spring back much when pressed. This usually takes about 2 to 3 hours, depending on temperature.
  9. Turn out of bowl, divide in half, and form each half into a ball. Let rest a few minutes.
  10. Shape each ball into a pan loaf by patting out into a circle, then folding two sides into the center and pinching together along most of the length, then folding in the ends and pinching in a triangular pattern from the original seam to seal everything together.
  11. Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans and place each loaf in one, seam side down.
  12. Cover with plastic or a towel and let proof until just under doubled in bulk. This rising will take slightly less than half the time the first rising took, and the dough will feel soft when gently touched but still slightly springy.
  13. About 10 minutes before the dough is finished rising, preheat the oven to 375 °F.
  14. When the dough is ready, put in the oven. Do not open the oven door while it bakes. Bake about 50 minutes, until crust is browned and feels solid to the touch.
  15. Take bread out of the oven, remove from the pan, and cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Storage Instructions

Store in plastic bread bags a couple days. Bread can be frozen without much impact on quality; slice it first and take out only the slices needed, which should be thawed in a microwave. Do not refrigerate bread, this accelerates staling.

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