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With four hungry boys in the house, bread is something that we can go through rather quickly. To both save money AND have a superior bread, I have been investing time in learning how to make my own at home. This Whole Wheat French Bread is one of my family’s favorites and quite versatile. (Note ~ This post contains affiliate links to favorite products available through Amazon as a convenience to my readers.)
Making Whole Wheat French Bread
I do start by grinding my own grain mixture in a Nutrimill. This allows me to have freshly ground grain for less than the cost of store bought flour which has either been stripped of some nutrition to prevent it from going rancid. If you aren’t set up for grinding your own grain, you can buy the same Wheat Montana products ground into flour. Just freeze the flour to keep it longer.
As I have all those hungry growing boys, I rarely just make a single loaf in the bread machine. Instead, I mix it all up in my Bosch stand mixer so that I can get 3 to 4 loaves of bread in one fell swoop which sometimes lasts us almost a week if I am lucky.
One of the ingredients I use in many of my bread recipes is a Dough Enhancer to help lengthen the shelf life a bit. Of course, if I know the bread will be eaten within 2 days time, I do not bother. However, I like to bake enough for several days and find using the enhancer while also storing the bread in a cooler spot helps to keep it longer.
Once the rising process is done, I get a spot ready to divide and roll the dough into the desired loaf shape. I put some olive oil onto the map and rub my hands in it to help keep the dough from sticking to me.
For this recipe, I can get 3 small baguettes plus 3 loaves of bread. I weigh the dough for the baguettes (0.5 pound each) and then roll into a ‘snake’ to fit the baguette pan. Then, I divide the dough into thirds for the remaining loaves to go into the commercial loaf pans I own. These chunks are flattened and then rolled with the ends tucked under. I usually make one loaf into a cinnamon bread or raisin bread while the others are plain and ready for sandwiches.
NOTE: If you want to make a single loaf in a bread machine or otherwise, divide all the ingredients by FOUR to find the proper amounts.
How long to rise is more about doubling in size rather than a preset length of time. Just remember that letting it rise too long can result in the top caving in while baking.
I won’t profess to have the prettiest loaves of bread in town. However, the boys agree that it is some of the best tasting you can get!
Recipe for Whole Wheat French Bread
- 4 cups hot water
- 6 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. salt
- 1 cup oil
- 4 Tbsp. gluten
- 2 Tbsp. dough enhancer
- 5 cups whole wheat flour blend
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 4 Tbsp. active dry yeast
- Add ingredients in the order shown.
- Knead (speed 3 for Bosch universal mixer) for 4 to 6 minutes.
- Let the dough rise in the bowl for 10 minutes, then punch down. Repeat this short rise and punch down process another 4 or 5 times.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Divide dough into 3 or 4 loaves or rounds. Especially if making into rounds, slash the tops with a sharp knife and brush with egg white.
- Allow the dough to rise until doubled.
- Bake 30 minutes.
For my whole wheat blend, I grind 4 cups of Prairie Gold, 2 cups of Kamut, 1 cup of Spelt and 1 cup of 7 grain blend.
When I make the loaves in pans, I usually skip the slashing along the top with egg white wash. For a softer crust, I will put a little butter along top.
If making the baguettes, the baking time will be closer to 20 minutes for those. Keep an eye on the oven as that time approaches and then let any regular sized loaves finish cooking to the 30 minute mark. I've found that using a large jelly roll pan to hold my 3 loaf pans makes things easier, too.
Have you tried making bread at home?
If so, what types of breads are family favorites?
If not, what is holding you back?