Homework 1--country wheat bread (it's 100% whole wheat!) (Zingerman's bread class II part 2)

After  "Wholey Whole Wheat Bread" class I took in January, I've practiced to bake some at home. This time I tried to make country whole wheat bread. In fact, I took home 6 loaves of bread from the class. It sounds a lot. However, having two bread-holic kids at home the breads were gone quickly. In three days there were only 1/2 loaf of country wheat bread and 2/3 loaf of sesame raisin bread left. I knew I have to make some more right away to stock up my bread supply. 

Mashed potatoes with some chunks and skin
The one I made was the country wheat bread which I learned from the class. It was made of 100% whole wheat flour. It sounds dry and hard, right? Wrong! It is very moist and soft. I think it's because of the mashed potatoes in the recipe. First of all I cooked the potatoes in the pressure cooker, and mashed it when it's still hot. I did leave some potato peels and chunks as suggested. When it's done mixing you can not tell there was any chunks or peels.

Import! Import! Good butter, good bread!
Even though I tried to use all the ingredients as close as what we used in the class. However, the fat content of the butter I used was not as high as what the one in the class, 82% and up. Because I only drink skim milk (no 2% nor whole milk) I added extra butter (4% of milk weight) to the dough, and subtracted milk the same amount of the extra butter. The extra butter not just made up lacking fat in the milk, but also lower fat content of butter I used.
I doubled the recipe, and planned to knead this dough with my 20-qt Hobart mixer. Kneading bread dough with hands is good workout, but kneading over a 6 lb dough is not. In most situation, when flour in the recipe is less than 1000g I use my 5-qt KitchenAid mixer to do the work. Since I doubled the recipe it had way more than 1000g of flour for the dough. Of course I used my big toy to do the task. It was a bad decision. Normally I don't have any problem of kneading bread dough size like this, but it didn't happen this time. After scraping the mixing bowl several times and tried to put dough together I gave up.  The dough just stick on the wall of the mixing bowl instead of dough hook. I ended up kneading by hands. Actually, it wasn't too bad as what I thought. Needless to say, it's a good workout after all:)

For the first fermentation I put the dough in a cooler with some hot water to speed up fermentation (we set our thermostat at 55F in the house, burrr...) (this bread was made in January) for one hour, and then I folded the dough and let it rise again for 45 minutes, until finger poke test was done. 

I only have 2 8x4-inch glass loaf pans, and 1 glass and 1 metal 9x5-inch loaf pans. For better bread baking results, I'll need 4 same size and same material loaf pans to bake this bread. Luckily, as a baking-holic I also own 8 1-lb pullman bread pans that's as many as my oven can fit. At first, I was worried that the pullman pans may be too big for the bread, but it turned out great. In fact, after slicing them they were better shape for sandwiches to me than the one I made in the class.

These breads weren't as dark as the class ones. However, the internal temp reached 190F after 30 minute of baking (I rotated once during the baking). The taste? It's absolutely fantastic! How about flavor? Well, I admit that the flavor of the bread was very close to the class one, but not quite the same. The one from the class had a wonderful honey aroma. Mine was lack of it. It's probably because the honey I used is from Costco. It was the only kind I have in hand:( The ingredients do make the end results different. For sure I'm going to invest good honey to make this bread next time.

Actually I hardly make 100% whole wheat bread. The only one I make occasionally is a bread machine's recipe. Of course, my picky family doesn't like it except me. It has common problems like most of bread machine bread has--dry texture with thick and hard crust. After tasting this bread my husband finally gave me an OK to make this bread to replace our regular sandwich bread which contains only 25% whole wheat flour. It means thumbs up to me. I finally made my family accept 100% whole grain bread. Big thanks to Zingerman's stuffs, Dan and Kyle!!


  1. This looks delicious! Can you share the recipe?

  2. I would love to but I only have a paper copy unless I retype the whole thing (it's quite long). If you don't live too far away from Ann Arobr my suggestion is taking Zingerman's bread classes! It's fun and I guarantee that you will learn a lot from the class. There were two sisters from Grand Rapid in my first bread lesson, and it was their 3rd bread lesson at Zingerman's. Good luck:)