Due to an onslaught of requests (and by onslaught, I mean three), I am posting my bread recipe. I love this recipe because it requires no proofing of the yeast, and only one rise, which happens directly in the bread pans. My husband pointed out that it is not exactly "my" recipe, and that's true. A friend of mine in Arizona gave me this recipe, and I honestly can't remember where she said it was from. It should also be said that this is by no means an exact science. You will need to experiment a bit to figure out what works best in your climate and with your equipment. If I was one of those fancy food bloggers I would have step by step pictures with explanations. But of course, I am not, so hopefully my explanations will be enough without the photographic evidence OK, here we go:
This recipe makes two 2 lb loaves. I adapted it from a recipe for three 1.5 lb loaves. I'll include those measurements in parentheses in case that is your preference.
Prep time: 20 minutes. Total time: about 2 hours
2 2/3 cups warm water, I think about 140 degrees (3 cups)
just over 1/3 cup honey (1/2 cup)
2/3 cup oil (3/4 cup) I use virgin coconut oil, but you can use any oil you like
8 cups flour, divided (9 cups)
1 TBS plus 1 tsp yeast (1 1/2 TBS)
1 heaping TBS vital wheat gluten (1 1/2 TBS)
3/4 TBS salt (1 TBS)
Put water in the bowl of a stand mixer and add oil and honey, followed by half of the flour (4 cups). Then add the yeast, vital wheat gluten and salt. Make sure the yeast doesn't go into the water, and make sure it doesn't touch the salt.
Using a dough hook, mix on medium speed until blended, and then gradually add more flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and just barely sticks to your fingers. You don't want to have to scrape it off, but your hands should come away clean after touching it. You should need some oil on your hands to handle it. Continue mixing on medium to medium high speed for about 8 minutes or until dough stretches a bit without tearing and holds its shape.
Pour the dough out onto a well oiled surface or a silicone baking mat (that's what I use). With a little oil on your hands, form the dough into two loaf shapes (or three, depending on how many you are doing), pounding on the counter a few times in the process to remove air bubbles.
Oil your bread pans (I use coconut oil for this, but you could probably use Pam or something similar) and place the loaves in the pans. They will rise exactly as they are formed, so keep that in mind. Let them rise for about an hour, or until they have doubled in size.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until the bread makes a kind of hollow sound when you thump it with your fingers.
A few notes:
I've never used any other kind of whole wheat flour besides the white whole wheat but I've been told that it makes a softer, lighter bread than other kinds. A lot of people use King Arthur brand, which is good, but if you have access to a Trader Joe's (sorry Bridget) I highly recommend their flour. Also, it only costs $2.99 per 5 lb bag, which is by far the cheapest I have found.
I have found that I only use about 6 cups of flour in total. Because of that, I also use a little less yeast, probably about 1 TBS plus 1/2 tsp. I had to reduce my yeast because my bread kept collapsing as I put it in the oven. If you live in a more humid climate, you might need more flour. I use slightly more flour here then I did in Arizona, which could also be due to the much lower elevation.
Vital wheat gluten doesn't last very long, and you don't use very much per batch, so I recommend keeping it in the freezer. I use the Bob's Red Mill, and I get it from Whole Foods.
If you choose to replace some of the whole wheat four with all-purpose flour, you will probably need a little more of it, depending on the ratio. You may need to adjust your yeast in that case, and you will want to reduce, or even eliminate the vital wheat gluten. (I will say that, although I prefer the health benefits of the 100% whole wheat bread, I ran out of whole wheat flour one day and used 1/2 white flour and the bread was so amazingly fluffy and soft and delicious, it almost made me never want to go back!)
I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, and it only barely tolerates this amount of dough. I cannot actually do the three 1.5 pound loaves in that mixer without it overheating, so keep that in mind. I have heard that you do some white flour, the mixer can handle it a little better.
Let me know if you have any questions, and if anyone tries this, please tell me about it!