As usual, there were some substitutions involved (FYI – most people advise against make substitutions in bread baking – it can be a very exact science). I began by making the sponge – I mixed a packet of yeast, 2 cups of warm water, and 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour in a bowl. I covered with a towel and allowed it to sit for 40 minutes.
After this initial rising, it was time to add the mix – 1/4 cup of canola oil, 1/3 cup of honey, 1 Tbs of salt. I added this liquid mixture to the sponge and then began adding in the additional flour. The recipe called for 3 cups of whole wheat flour and 4 cups of all-purpose flour. This is where I ran into some problems. First of all, I only had 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour on hand so I had to increase the whole wheat portion. Furthermore, the dough was very dry (perhaps due to the weather or humidity of my kitchen?) and would not take 7 extra cups of flour. I actually had to add over 1/4 cup of water to make the dough workable. Bread is so finick-y! I ended up adding 3 1/2 cups of ww wheat flour and 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour. I kneaded this for a good 15 minutes and then covered and set aside for 1 1/2 minutes.
Once the dough had done its thing for 90+ minutes, I kneaded it one more time (~10 minutes), divided the dough ball in two, and placed it in 2 greased and sesame seed sprinkled loaf pans. I pressed the dough into the bottom of the pan and then flipped it over. This ensured a nicely shaped top and evenly sesame-seeded top. I covered the pans and allowed it to double in volume (I let it sit for 20-25 minutes, but you should probably wait longer). Finally I popped the loaf pans in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
After the loaves finished baking, I carefully popped them out on to a wire rack and allowed them to cool for 30 minutes before slicing. If you cut the bread when its too hot, the structure of the bread will collapse – you don’t want that!
This bread had a high ratio of whole wheat flour and it was noticable. Whole wheat breads don’t rise as high and are denser than white bread. However, I really liked the taste of this loaf. It reminded me of rustic peasant bread :-) It’s been delicious toasted and covered with raspberry jam.
There are plenty of variations that you could make while baking this bread. Here are a few:
For a thick, crunchy crust – bake the bread at 425 F for the first 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 F for the remaining 30 minutes.
Brush milk, egg yolk, or egg white on the bread loaves just before baking. These glazes will result in slightly different effects on the crust.
Sprinkle sesame, poppy, or sunflower seeds into the batter or incorporate them as part of the crust.
Play around with the ratios of whole wheat flour and white flour – just keep in mind that whole wheat flour creates a denser, chewier loaf.