recipes: whole wheat bread

Ever since middle school, I've had the ambition to make my own bread. I'm not talking about a single foray into the world of yeast and flour, I mean "make my own bread" as in only have bread I made sitting around the house. I blame my geometry teacher who ground her own flour, made jam from her own berries, and pressed her own apple juice, for first giving me this inkling. Our move to real food eating was the other catalyst that created the perfect opportunity to give weekly bread making a whirl. And now here she is...

Isn't that beautiful?? My first two loaves were abysmal, squashed little bricks, but Joe ate them like a champ and told me to keep trying. My loaf from two weeks ago tasted better, but completely collapsed in the oven. We ate that one too. But this loaf...this one was perfect. So tall and delicious! I couldn't believe it. Joe said he knew all along that I could do it, but secretly I think he was thanking his lucky stars that he wouldn't be having his pb&j on dry, dense brick bread this week.

I've been using the yeast bread tutorial from Naturally Ella and it's worked wonders for me. Being such a visual person can be a real hamper to success with normal recipes that hardly ever tell you what something should look like at a particular stage. But Erin includes a video with her tutorial showing exactly what the bread should look like at the different stages which helped me immensely. In fact, I loved it so much I would like to dedicate that beautiful loaf above to her. :)

I made a few adjustments to her original method to account for using whole wheat flour instead of white, which has more gluten. So far, adding 1/3 cup of flour with 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten and kneading the bread for a full ten minutes in the mixer has seemed to do the trick. I would HIGHLY recommend this tutorial if you're interested in making your own bread. It's a great starter and you can basically adjust it to make anything you want to (cheesy garlic bread? mix in some cheese/garlic, cinnamon raisin bread? toss those babies right in there with everything else). Now, I better go get to work on my loaf for this week. Here's hoping it turns out just as good as my last one!

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