Farmhouse Whole Wheat Bread

March 13, 2012

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: I like to braid this loaf for two reasons. One it looks pretty and two, when I make this loaf on a Sunday it is nice to bake it about two hours before dinner, remove it from the oven to cool a little, then serve it warm and let people tear off a hunk. It will tear at the braids like dinner rolls would.
thirschfeld

Makes: two 4 x 8 loaves
Prep time: 2 hrs 15 min
Cook time: 50 min

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups warm buttermilk, body temperature is good
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 5 1/2 cups fine grind whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 egg white mixed with a tablespoon of water
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Warm the buttermilk to body temperature. In other words when you stick a finger into it you shouldn’t feel it.
  2. Place the buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the tablespoon of yeast and the honey to it. Let the yeast dissolve either by whisking it or letting it bloom. Add the whole wheat flour, 1 cup of bread flour, egg and salt.
  3. Using a thick handled wooden spoon mix the dough in a circular fashion adding the softened butter once the dough has started to form. Once the dough has formed remove it from the bowl to a clean counter top and knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and the gluten has formed. Consider this your workout for the day. Roll the dough into a tight ball.
  4. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover it with a damp warm towel and set it in a warm place. Set a timer for 1 hour.
  5. At the end of the hour punch down the dough and set the timer for another hour. At the end of this hour the dough should be doubled in size.
  6. Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Roll it into a ball and either divide it into thirds so you can roll it into logs and braid it or roll it into two big logs.
  7. Place the loaves into prepared pans. I always oil and then shake flour into my pans. The thin coating of flour lets the baked bread easily release from the pan . Cover with a warm damp towel and let the dough rise for 40 minutes to an hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Once the loaves have doubled brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. You can also dust the tops with flour but if you do this don’t use the egg wash.
  9. Bake the loaves in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes rotating them halfway through baking.
  10. Remove the loaves from the oven and remove them from the bread pans to a rack and let them cool.

More Great Recipes:
Bread|American|Honey|Whole Wheat|Grains|Buttermilk|Side

Reviews (29) Questions (4)

29 Reviews

Laura P. January 5, 2018
Has anyone got the weight equivalents for the flour in this recipe? I made it today using the America’s Test Kitchen weight-per-unsifted-cup of both the bread and whole wheat flours, and I ended up with a batter, not dough. Added an extra half-cup of each kind, but it was still way wet - no way I could have braided it. I’m baking it anyway, but would love to get it right the next time.
 
Laura P. January 6, 2018
An update: the bread was excellent, despite my doubts about it being so wet.
 
Laura P. January 9, 2018
I made it again, and this time it turned out perfectly. I used 700 g of whole wheat flour and 140 g of white bread flour.
 
Lisa L. December 26, 2017
I was thinking of making this recipe in a 9x5-in pan (as that is the only size I own), since I know that overall this size pan is twice the volume of an 8x4-in pan. However, I'm not sure if this will work when factoring in how much the bread will rise... do you think this is feasible?
 
Laura P. January 9, 2018
That’s the size pan I used, and it turned out perfectly.
 
anna February 13, 2015
Why does my home-made bread become rock hard the next day?<br />Can I prevent this?
 
Author Comment
thirschfeld February 13, 2015
Is the bread left on the counter unwrapped? How do you store it?
 
Jennifer February 6, 2015
Has anyone tried this using a stand mixer for the knead? I suck at kneading and have better luck using my mixer for this step.
 
Author Comment
thirschfeld February 13, 2015
Stand mixer is how I make it most of the time<br />
 
AliceH March 2, 2014
This bread was really good, moist, and kept well unlike most of the breads I make. I did braid it, but next time, I will not because it made it a bit difficult to slice without the bumpy top crust falling off in chunks. I've never made bread with this much whole wheat flour ( even though I only buy 100% whole wheat bread) before because all the whole wheat bread recipes all seem to require more time that I am willing to put into bread baking. I can usually go from mixing flour by hand to a cleaned table and rising dough in less than 15 minutes. This is a new go-to daily bread recipe for me.
 
Ashley M. December 23, 2013
This was delicious! It was a little dense for my boyfriend's taste but I really loved it warmed with some butter and honey spread on it!
 
Sharifa July 14, 2013
hi, i have baked this delicious bread 3 days ago and i'm rising the 2nd chapter now - can't wait to taste it again! i have a doubt: when i cover the dough with a warm towel, the towel gets cold in a few seconds although i cover it with a dry one and the bowl is in a very warm place... do you have some way to avoid the towel to get cold? thanks
 
Author Comment
thirschfeld July 14, 2013
The towel is really meant to keep the crust from drying out before you bake the bread. Some people use plastic wrap but I like the damp towel. The warm towel coming down to room temp is fine.
 
Sharifa July 14, 2013
thank you! it sounds reasonable :)
 
larry April 15, 2013
Made it one time using recipe straight up. Delicious and simple. Second time I used my homemade sprouted wheat flour...half honey half molasses. Happy happy happy
 
mschrank November 18, 2012
Wow! I'm not a horrible baker, but bread has always been hit and miss for me. This one turned out amazing! I included my 7 year old daughter in the process...I think that was the key ingredient.
 
Latetotheparty July 2, 2012
Thank you for this recipe. I have been looking ofr a whole wheat bread recipe that would have a soft texture. I did cut this in half to make just one loaf, used soured milk as I had no buttermilk handy and was not adventurous enough to braid it. My one loaf rose well, had a great texture and taste.
 
Mary M. May 21, 2012
This has become my go-to weekly bread recipe -- we love it warm out of the oven, and later for sandwiches and toast. Thank you!
 
Wonderland K. May 11, 2012
I love the look of braided bread, but that can make fitting slices into the toaster difficult. It never occurred to me to just stick them in a pan. Thanks for resolving this bread dilemma! Made these last Sunday, and both loaves have somehow disappeared already.
 
mainecook61 March 22, 2012
Very good recipe. The loaves have nice oven spring. The instructions are accurate, although you do have to remember to put the softened butter in when called for. I did use a bit less flour. This also keeps and freezes well.
 
Pleuhs March 21, 2012
I made this bread yesterday and it didn't rise in the oven at all. ( It rose very well the first, second and third time) What did I do wrong?
 
Author Comment
thirschfeld March 21, 2012
Pleuhs it sounds like when you put it in the oven it didn't get what is called, spring, or that oven rise which leads me to believe your final rise was too long. Which you might have gone an hours but if your kitchen was warm yesterday it might have only needed thirty five minutes. What was the interior crumb like?
 
Kimmbe March 16, 2012
I have never braided a top before--could you provide some guidance? Your photo looks lovely!
 
Author Comment
thirschfeld March 16, 2012
You broad it like a Challah loaf and then simply put it in a loaf pan and then let it have it'a final rise. Think hair braiding with each end tucked under.
 
midnitechef March 14, 2012
OOH! This looks lovely! Thanks for sharing a bread recipe :)
 
Author Comment
thirschfeld March 14, 2012
total weight of an ingredient ÷ total weight of flour x 100% = % of ingredient <br /> <br />I give you the means now you have the power to convert any bread recipe you wish
 
Author Comment
thirschfeld March 14, 2012
total weight of an ingredient ÷ total weight of flour x 100% = % of ingredient <br /> <br />I'll give you the means now you have the power to figure the bakers percentages on any loaf you want to convert, not just this one.
 
goodforbusiness March 14, 2012
I understand how to convert percentages based on the weight of flour (big fan of Hammelman!), but I don't know how to figure out formulas from volume measurements without scaling the ingredients first (which I'm hesitant to do because I would end up wasting ingredients on the first round). I was wondering if you would be willing to share your formula. Thanks! :)
 
goodforbusiness March 14, 2012
Could you provide baker's percentages for this loaf? I would like to scale it down to make one small loaf. :)