Here's how to tell if your dough is ready to rise:
I tell you, it's the holy grail, the mecca, the nirvana of bread! More than a month later I'm still thrilled (and still eating the last loaf).
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Almost Whole-Wheat Bread
Adapted from Cooking with Candra – http://www.cookingwithcandra.com/blog/2010/09/20/hearty-and-healthy-homemade-whole-wheat-bread-recipe/
Makes two loaves
4 cups whole-wheat bread flour
1 tbsp Fleischman’s traditional yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil, room temperature
2 tbsp agave syrup (or use sugar, honey or molasses)
2 to 2-1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
2 tsp salt
2 cups 110 to 115°F water* (for best result, use a candy thermometer)
Using a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook at lowest speed, combine 3 cups of whole-wheat flour, oil, sweetener and yeast in large mixing bowl. Blend together, scraping down the sides.
Add water and final cup of whole-wheat flour. Blend together, scraping down the sides.
Add 1 cup of white flour and the salt. Blend together, scraping down the sides.
Add 1 cup more of white flour. Blend together, scraping down the sides.
Knead dough at lowest speed for 10 minutes or until you have a nice smooth ball that is no longer sticky (continue to scrape down the sides until all the flour is picked up). If after a few minutes of kneading, the dough is still sticky, add final 1/2 cup of white flour, scraping down the sides and continue. (Note: all above can be done by hand as well, but using a mixer or bread machine is much easier.)
Place in large oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Place in a warm, draft-free area to rise until double in size (about 1-1/2 hours). (I use the oven with the light turned on for a nice, even temperature.)
Remove dough from bowl (this will “punch it down”) and shape into loaves. Place in greased 8-inch loaf pans, cover with clean towel and allow to rise in warm, draft-free area for another hour or so, until the dough forms a nice 1-inch dome over the top of the bread pan.
Remove towel and place in preheated 400°F oven, center rack, for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pans. Brush crust lightly with butter if desired, and cool on wire racks.
Hint: Watch this video to know when your dough is kneaded enough and is ready for rising – http://www.cookingwithcandra.com/blog/2010/05/04/ask-candra-the-window-pane-test/
Printable Almost Whole-wheat Bread