I am so sick of ads for fibre this and fibre that. From near viagra exuberance to candid chats with Monica Scharre (oh, sorry, I thought it was 2009, not 1987!) I’ve just had enough. I’m not one to preach when it comes to diet, but, dude, fruits, veg, grains. Yup, it’s got me frustrated enough to start throwing out the “dudes”. Anyway, here’s my latest fibre fix, an almost whole wheat bread adapted from Anna Thomas’ Love Soup (which is also full of wonderful soup recipes).
Easy Whole Wheat Bread
This bread is super easy to make, you don’t need a mixer or any fancy equipment (other than an oven). It does rise for quite a while, though, so it’s perfect for a lazy weekend or even for planning around other activities.
1 ½ cups warm water
3 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour *
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour *
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup bits (bits? Flavour stuff! I’ve done toasted walnuts, toasted hazelnuts and chopped dates, toasted pecans and dried apples, raisins)
In a large bowl, combine the water, honey, and yeast. Stir and let the yeast activate.
Stir in the flours, salt, oil, and bits. Make sure everything is combined but don’t worry about kneading. Pat the dough into a rough ball and leave it to rise, covered for 3 or 4 hours. It should rise then start to collapse. At this point you can get ready to bake or you can form your dough back into a ball, cover it well, and put it back into the fridge for up to 5 days.
When you want to bake your bread, prep a baking sheet by lining it with parchment or sprinkling it with a layer of cornmeal. Remove your dough from the bowl and with floured hands, shape it into a smooth ball, pulling the sides down and pinching them together on the undersides of the loaf. Place the loaf smooth side up on your baking tray then set it aside, covered, to rise. You can cover it with a clean dish towel, plastic wrap, a big bowl, or my favourite, pop the whole thing (even the tray) into a really big plastic storage tub. Your dough needs rise until it is about 1 ½ times it’s starting size, which should take about 45 minutes for fresh dough and about 2 hours for dough that has been refrigerated. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Once the loaf has risen enough, sprinkle a bit more whole wheat flour on the top then use a sharp knife to make a few slashes on the top of the bread. Not only does this look pretty, but it helps control the bread’s expansion in the oven. Put the bread into the middle of the hot oven then quickly spray with a few blasts of water from a spray bottle. No bottle? It’s not that essential, it just helps build a thin, crisp crust. Quickly close the oven door and go do something else for about 50 – 60 minutes. I suggest watching a Russell Howard dvd.
How can you tell the bread is done? Well, your whole house will smell of bread and the loaf itself will be nice and dark and sound hollow when you tap on the bottom. For kitchen geekery inclined (me!) you can pull out your instant read thermometer for a test – the inside of the loaf should read 190°F.
Try to wait until the loaf is at least somewhat cool before cutting into it, you’ll get cleaner slices and won’t burn your mouth! It’s hard to resist, though.
* If you want an even more fibre-y bread, leave out the all purpose flour and go with 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour instead.