When trends collide: No knead, meet whole grain.

“Give us bread recipes with more fiber! We want to bake healthy!”

That’s what we say in public, at least. But when it comes right down to it, do we put our money where our mouth is (literally), and buy whole-grain flours, and bake whole-grain breads?

Uhhh…

Guilty as charged, right?

Don’t feel bad; I’m with you. When I go into the kitchen to bake bread, I have to remind myself to reach for the whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour.

Sigh… yeah, yeah, high fiber, minerals, vitamins. But what about the taste?

And then EVERY time I bake whole-wheat bread, I say to myself, “Wow – this is darned good bread.”  Tasty, moist, with a compelling craggy texture perfect for trapping and holding melting butter…

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Why, my goodness, could this REALLY be 100% whole wheat bread?

You betcha. AND – it’s no-knead whole-wheat bread.

No-knead: those magic words have introduced a whole new population of foodies to homemade bread. And now, whole grains have been added to the no-knead equation –

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Dr. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, authors of the wildly popular Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, have come out with a sequel: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

From loaves and rolls of all shapes and sizes, to flatbreads and pizza, to sweet pastries, this book covers every type of whole-grain yeast baking – with a chapter devoted to gluten-free baking, as well. Jeff and Zoë offer us recipes for simple, stir-together doughs that rest in the fridge till you’re ready to make bread.

No need to knead – EVER.

The book is the perfect complement to King Arthur’s array of whole grains and no-knead tools. We tried some of the recipes; we love ’em. And I’d like to share two of them with you here: Olive Spelt Bread, and Traditional American-Style Honey Whole Wheat Bread.

Now usually, I’d link you to these recipes on the King Arthur Web site, as a backup to these blog instructions. But this time, we’re doing blog-only: what you read here is what you get, no recipe link.

Don’t worry, you have all the information you need to make these two breads. But if you’d like the recipes in a different format, grab a copy of the book: at the library, at Amazon, or right here.  Jeff and Zoë did a lot of work on this newest project, and they deserve to reap some benefit.

So, back to the recipes.

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Before we get started, here’s my whole wheat flour of choice: King Arthur’s 100% organic white whole wheat flour. It’s whole wheat (not white flour), containing all the fiber and minerals (bran), and all the vitamins (germ) found in regular whole wheat.

The only thing it’s lacking? The somewhat bitter compound (phenolic acid) found in the bran layer of traditional red whole wheat.

Now, some folks love that classic “whole wheaty” taste. Me, I want my whole wheat “sweet:” nutty and rich flavored, without a single hint of back-of-the-tongue tannin.

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That’s why I keep a whole bucket of organic white whole wheat in the test-kitchen freezer, ready anytime I feel the urge to reach for whole wheat.

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Oh, and here’s one more ingredient Jeff and Zoë call for a lot: vital wheat gluten. It helps whole-grain yeast breads avoid the dreaded Hockey Puck Syndrome: short and squat.

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Now, how about that Olive Spelt Bread? Let’s start with the olives. Jeff and Zoë call for 1 cup (5 ounces) of pitted green olives; I like Kalamata.

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Chop the olives coarsely.

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In a large bowl, mix the following:

4 cups (1 pound) spelt flour*
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup (5 ounces) chopped pitted olives

*We prefer whole spelt rather than white spelt. Whole spelt is whole grain, while white spelt has had its healthy bran and germ removed.

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Mix till well combined. You can do this by hand, using a dough whisk or big spoon; or in a stand mixer.

Cover the dough, and let it rest at cool room temperature (e.g., not 90°F) for 2 hours.

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I didn’t know what to expect, so thought I’d track its rise. Here it is at the start…

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…after 1 hour…

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…and after 2 hours.

As you can see, this isn’t a vigorous riser.

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After 2 hours, it should look bubbly.

At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dough for up to 7 days. The flavor will gradually become more assertive and tangier, as the yeast continues to grow and create organic acids.

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Since I happened to be in a hurry – as usual! – I chose to make bread immediately.

Sprinkling some flour atop the sticky dough makes it easier to scoop.

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Scoop off a 1-pound piece of dough – about the size of a large grapefruit. You’ll get 3 to 4 loaves out of the entire batch of dough, depending on how big you actually make the loaves.

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It helps to have a piece of floured parchment ready. I’ve set the parchment on a giant spatula, which I’ll use to move the loaf around.

Gosh, why does that parchment look so messy? Because it’s the same piece I used to bake some cookies earlier. Yes, parchment is reusable: over, and over, and over…

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So, here’s the sticky dough on the floured parchment.

Note: If you don’t plan on baking this bread on a pizza stone, shape it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

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And here it is shaped into a ball. As you can see by my fingers – sticky going. Just keep rubbing your fingers with flour (or dipping in olive oil), and you’ll do fine.

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Sprinkle flour atop the dough; this will help keep the loaf moist as it rises, plus create a nice crust.

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Not too much flour; brush off any excess.

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Next, a shower cap “rising tent.” LOVE these clear throwaway shower caps…

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Let the bread rise for about 90 minutes. Notice how it’s expanded, and absorbed the flour on top.

Towards the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 450°F. If you’re using a pizza stone, put it on a lower-middle shelf. Whether or not you’re using a stone, place a shallow pan – such as a broiler pan, or small rimmed cookie sheet – on the lowest oven shelf.

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Have 1 cup of hot water ready; you’re going to pour it into the pan in the oven to create steam.

Make a couple of quick, aggressive cuts in the loaf…

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…and immediately put it into the hot oven – either on your stone or, if it’s on a baking sheet, on the oven rack.

Pour the hot water into the pan below, and shut the oven door as quickly as possible.

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Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes, till it’s a deep golden brown.

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Remove it from the oven – my giant spatula is always at the ready! Cool it on a rack.

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Slice when completely cool.

This isn’t a high riser; as you can see, unlike white flour breads, whole-grain loaves tend to spread outwards, rather than up. But it’s wonderfully tasty.

Next up: Traditional American-Style Honey Whole Wheat Bread.

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I’ll mix this dough in a 6-quart dough-rising bucket, so I can refrigerate it till I’m ready to bake.

Place the following in a large bowl, or food-safe covered container. Whatever you use should hold at least 4 1/2 to 5 quarts.

7 cups (28 ounces) King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour – traditional, or  white whole wheat
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup (6 ounces) honey
3 1/4 cups (26 ounces) lukewarm water

Stir to combine.

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Cover loosely, and allow the dough to rise at cool room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it – at least overnight, or for as long as a week.

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Here it is after being in the fridge all night. It’s just about doubled.

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It’ll show some bubbles on top, though probably not a lot.

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Now you’re going to scoop out half the dough, a scant 2 pounds.

See those strands? That’s the gluten, which has managed to develop itself while it rests in the fridge. Refrigeration and time take the place of kneading.

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Here’s a visual of how big the piece of dough should be. As you can see, it’s not quite as sticky as that spelt dough in the preceding recipe.

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Place it in a lightly greased 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan.

Tent the pan with plastic (or your ever-handy shower cap), and let the dough rise for about 90 minutes.

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It’ll get pretty close to the rim of the pan.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

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Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Then tent it lightly with foil, and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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It will have risen nicely, and be a rich, golden brown.

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Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out of the pan, and cool it on a rack.

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Slice when cool.

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Toast gently, and spread with butter.

Honestly, this is the nicest, softest whole wheat sandwich bread I’ve ever made. The honey adds a wonderful touch of sweetness and extra moistness.

Jeff and Zoë, once again – thanks for making bread easy. Even whole-grain bread.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Anita

    I made the honey whole wheat recipe and it didn’t do any thing. I bought new yeast and vital wheat gluten for the project. I used half white flour and half whole wheat. The wheat flour was fresh because I just ground it. This is the second time I’ve tried to do this process and the first time it failed and I figured that was because I maybe had old yeast so I got new red star yeast and redmill gluten. I’ve made bread in the past so I know something about bread. Any thoughts? Thanks Anita

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Anita! Hmm, did the dough seem stiff, firm, or dry during either attempt? This would be a sure-fire way to keep your bread from rising. If not, please feel free to give our Baker’s Hotline a call so that we can troubleshoot. Jon@KAF 855 371 2253

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