As promised to all my linked-in associates, here are two of the bread recipes that i use for my kids lunches.
Whole Wheat Slow Rise Bread
4 cups whole wheat flour ( bread flour works best)
2 cups unbleached white flour ( look for bread flour)
1/2 tsp yeast
3 cups lukewarm water, use a candy thermometer, 110 to 115 degrees F
1 tablespoon salt
Place the water in a glass measuring cup and place in the microwave for one minute. Stir and heat for one minute more. Place the thermometer in the water and when it registers 115 degrees add the yeast and stir gently until it dissolves. Pour the yeast mixture into the mixing bowl of your kitchenaid mixer, attach the mixing paddle and add 3 cups of the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the white flour. Beat the mixture to mix it thoroughly and then beat for an additional 1 minute to develop the gluten. If you are mixing the bread by hand, mix the ingredients and then beat it 300 strokes with a wooden spoon. This is called the bread sponge. Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
Allow the sponge to sit and work for 30 to 40 minutes max. Meanwhile prepare a deep bowl by spraying it with butter spray along the bottom and sides. When the sponge is finished working add the salt and 1 cup of the whole wheat flour and attach the dough hook to your mixer. Work the dough with the hook on the #2 setting until the flour is blended then reduce the speed to #1 and knead the bread into a ball adding the final cup of white flour gradually whenever the dough sticks to the bowl. When the dough has formed a non-sticky ball, return the mixer speed to #2 and knead for one minute more.
If you are kneading by hand add the whole wheat flour to the sponge and mix it until it is incorporated. Then turn the dough onto a flat, floured surface and knead, using the last cup of white flour to keep it from sticking. Knead for at least 7 minutes.
Place the dough into the prepared bowl, cover with a damp towel and allow to raise at room temperature until doubled in size. Because the yeast amount is small, this first rise should take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Check back after 2. When the dough has risen, punch it down with your hand, cover it and allow it to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the baking pans and shaping surface.
Butter spray two bread baking pans. If they are new wash them with hot, soapy water, dry them and rub the inside of them with cooking oil and a paper towel. Then butter spray them when you are ready to use them. For shaping the bread you will need an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white flour and a flat, clean surface. I like using a thin plastic cutting board which is about 9×13 inches.
Sprinkle half of the flour on the board and place half of the bread dough on the floured surface. I cut the dough in half with a bread knife and shape it into a circle. Rock your knuckles into the dough beginning at one end and pushing the dough into an oval. You are pushing the air bubbles out of the dough. Fold the dough in half and start at one end pushing the air bubles out with your knuckles once again. You should now have a long smile shaped piece of dough. Fold the dough over itself in thirds and knuckle it once more. Then role it beginning with the longer side into a tube and press down on the ends to seal them. Keep rolling back and forth until the seam on the bottom of the loaf is sealed. Place in the bread pan and cover with a damp towel for 45 minutes to an hour or until doubled in size. Repeat the shaping and rising with the second loaf.
When the loaves have risen, place them in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Tap the loaves to test for doneness, they will sound hollow. Remove immiediately from the bread pan. You should be able to turn the pan over and give it a shake. The bread should fall out. If it doesn’t, gently place a table knife between the loaf and the pan and separate the spots that are sticking. The bread should cool completely on a bakers rack before being stored in a plastic bag and frozen. For the loaf that you are going to eat right away, after one day store it in the refridgerator.
Make sure you have a sharp bread knife and gently saw thru the loaf. Of course fresh bread from the oven with a little butter makes a great snack for a tired cook. Enjoy!