Whole Wheat Bread

brown bread

We all read about the NYT no-knead bread last month. It was all over the blogs . But, I was going to have to make mine the hard way. You see, I do not possess a deep, lidded, oven-proof dish that is the prerequisite for the aforementioned bread. From all the debate I gathered that the ‘covered’ pan was the key to raise the moisture during baking, and the secret behind the dead gorgeous crust, and that throwing ice cubes into the oven floor was not going to get me the exact same result. But I liked the idea of less yeast and the longer rising time.

So I decided to work with my basic bread dough recipe and try a few changes. Less yeast, less sugar, less oil, and a much longer rise.

First, I made a sponge. I took a cup or so of hot water to which I added sugar and yeast, and let this foam for 10 minutes. Then I added a cup of flour and mixed this into a batter, covered it and let it sit for an hour. After an hour my mix was looking really frothy. Now I dumped in most of my flour, the salt and the oil and mixed it all into a soft dough using warm water. And then I really worked on it. I mean, really worked on it – turned it on to my kitchen counter which was dusted well with the remaining flour, and kneaded for a good ten minutes, all the while talking with my kitchen help. She is always happy to see me tackle projects other than the regular roti-subzi because then she gets to watch as I do most of the work 🙂 She pretends it is very complicated (kneading a softer than usual dough) and lets me handle it entirely.

I let this rise, all coated with a fine film of oil, for about six hours. Then I punched it down and shaped into two, very large, loaves and let it prove for another hour and half. After that, it took only 20 minutes in my pre-heated convection oven to get my great looking loaves. Next time I might try an egg wash for a glossy brown glaze.

This recipe is a lot of dough, and you will end up with two giant loaves. Feel free to halve or third the recipe if you, like me, do not have fancy kitchen equipment with fancier attachments.

The house was soon filled with the warm nutty smell of baking bread and we enjoyed it with soup on the cold winter New Year’s eve – and for breakfast the entire week. The bread has a medium dense texture and is heavenly toasted and spread with some good-old Amul butter. I have to say, everyone, including my teen son, is in love with home-made brown bread. It rocks.

Whole Wheat Bread

5 C atta (whole wheat flour)
5 C maida (all purpose flour)
3 t yeast
4 t salt
4 t sugar
4 t oil (olive or refined peanut oil)
1T Italian herb mix (or your choice)
warm water

In a bowl take a cup of hot water and dissolve the sugar in this. Sprinkle yeast, stir, cover and leave for 10 minutes. The yeast will have started to multiply like crazy giving you a foaming mix. Add a cup of all purpose flour to this and mix well. Cover and set this aside, in a warm place, for an hour. Since it is really cold in Delhi right now, I do this by leaving the bowl in a warmed oven.

After an hour the surface of your flour mix will be covered with large bubbles. Your sponge is ready to receive the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything and turn it onto a floured surface, such as your clean kitchen counter, and knead for a good 10 minutes. Add more flour or water while kneading for a very soft dough, just short of sticky. Spread a little oil in a large bowl, put the giant ball of dough in it. Turn it over so that it is coated with oil on all sides. Cover and leave the dough to rise for 6-8 hrs.

The dough will have doubled in size. Punch it down and divide into two. Dust two loaf tins with flour and put the shaped dough into these for the final rise. This ‘proving’ is very essential for brown breads; it results in a much lighter bread. Lightly cover the loaf tins with oiled cling film and leave in a warm, draft free place, or as in my cold kitchen, in a barely warm oven for an hour and half, till doubled in size.

Bake in a hot oven (Gas Mark 7) for 18-20 min, rotating the tins half way through. The baking time may be different for different ovens, so keep an eye on your loaves. My oven always takes much less time than most recipes call for. Remove from tins and cool on a wire rack.

Wait for the loaves to cool completely before slicing. The wait was short, it being winter time. Thank God!

And, I am keeping my eyes open for that ‘dutch oven’ so that I can make that no-knead bread some day.

Tags:whole wheat bread, bread

15 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Bread

  1. OMG!!!!! that looks like one big large mushroom!!!!!!! What a lovely bread Anita!!!!!
    Hi Rooma (?). That’s true, these were some giant loaves!!

  2. The bread looks delicious.Ihve never baked a bread at home,but will bake one soon. Ihve read ur previous blogs too,they r really interesting.The one u wrote on Dilli Haat Dastkar mela, Dilli Haat is my weakness.Iluv to visit that place when Iam in Delhi.Waiting 4 ur next blog.
    Hi Archana. Thanks for reading…

  3. Anita did you get hiccups on the last 2 days. I made the white bread you had posted sometime ago. I was thrilled with it. I don’t have a loaf tin so used the cake tray yet it was amazing. I thank you so~~~ much for letting us know the recipe. I feel all like a pro now. My family is happy and Dad too patted my back. Thanks again :). Will try this one too. Cheers
    Hi Anjali. It is just that we think bread must be all complicated because baking was never a part of Indian home-cooking. Am glad you tried…and the brown bread just makes us feel better about eating bread – almost as good as roti!

  4. Very nice! I am glad your experiment paid off. I like how you explain every step of the process. I don’t think I could knead that much dough for that long, but I do have a stand mixer, so that might work.

  5. you can make the NYT no-knead bread in a stone in the oven or on a baking sheet. it produces every better results than the one in a container, but it won’t rise as high. i have tried it.

    else, you can use a deep corningware or ceramic container or any thick bottomed container and use foil to cover the container, shiny side in.

    i have made it this way several times.

    since you don’t get “bread flour” in india and use maida instead, you can add 1 tsp. lemon juice to the dough. yeast likes it.

    your loaves look awesome.


    Thanks Shaista for the tips. I think I will try my large cast iron pan tented over with foil then! I would like to have a risen bread, and to see that texture on my crust! Thanks, again.

  6. Wow!!! Those bread look perfect…never tried baking one now will definitely give it a try and let you know….Thankyou Anita for the recipe.

  7. Hey Anita
    Lovely loaves.
    I tried the no knead bread the very next week that it came in the NY times’ top emailed articles. I don’t have a fancy dutch oven either, but put the risen and proven dough in a heavy duty kadai and covered it with several layers of heavy foil. That did the trick.

    Now, why didn’t I think of that! But wait, one time I baked using the pressure cooker aluminium pots and eventually all of them got tiny holes! ‘Heavy duty’ is the key word! Looking forward to the kitchen tour.

  8. Hey Anita

    I’ve always wanted to make bread at home, & wheat bread – nothing to beat it.

    But can you pls tell me the temperature for baking. You have indicated a “Gas Mark 7” which I am unsure as to what the temp must be.

    Your help will be deeply appreciated. I wish to bake the bread on Sunday

    Hi Shella. Gas Mark 7 is 220C or 425F. Hope that helps. Here is the link that I use for conversions.

  9. Hi

    I am a regular follower of ur blog & i tried this bread , but my bread didnt turn out so food. i wanted to prepare only 1 loaf so i halved the ing…. i baked it for 40 mins @ 180c.Do u get a strong smell of yeast , once the bread is baked……..the outer crust was a bit hard , but the ineer part was soft , but didnt have a good taste to it…….i use Eagle brand dry yeast. which is a good brand availble in the market.

  10. Howdy are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and
    set up my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to
    make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s