Have you ever had a piece of whole wheat bread that although the flavor was good the texture was dry, dense or heavy? The kind of bread that when you fold it in half it breaks apart and leaves crumbs everywhere? This bread is the answer to all of those things and it can be made from start to finish in an hour and a half!
The presence of bran in whole wheat flour reduces gluten development and therefore bread made with it tends to be more heavy and dense. Gluten gives dough elasticity, helping it to rise and keep it's shape as well as contributing to the chewy texture of the bread. Therefore adding wheat gluten will help make your whole wheat bread lighter. Wheat Gluten can be found in most major grocery stores (I use Bob's Red Mill) and can be ordered from places like King Arthur. Adding honey, butter or milk for part of the water can also help also.
One of the other ingredients that can be used is barley malt syrup. This is an old ingredient but is still found fairly easily if you know where to look. Barley malt syrup acts as a fermenting agent in both baking and brewing. In baking, barley feeds the yeast which then releases gases into the dough. The gases make the dough lighter and airier. It also provides an earthy, nutty flavor to the bread. I have found this at Whole Foods but it can also be found in stores that carry brewing supplies and online.
Although freshly ground whole wheat flour is the best I do not yet have a grain mill so I, like most people, must rely on what my local grocery store carries. When purchasing your flour be sure it is 100% whole wheat flour and not mixed with all purpose flour or bread flour.
Honey butter is great on this bread, okay.....most bread. Recipe for Honey butter follows bread recipe.
Whole Wheat Bread
6 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1/3 cup gluten flour (vital wheat gluten)
1 1/4 Tablespoons Instant yeast (quick rise or bread machine yeast)
2 1/2 cups steaming hot tap water (not boiling)
1 T salt
1/3 cup Canola oil (see update below, this can be done differently)
1/4 cup honey
2 T barley malt syrup
1 T lemon juice
UPDATE: I have found that this bread does not need much oil. I have forgotten to add the oil and it was still moist and soft. I have found that I like using only about 2 tablespoons of oil instead of the 1/3 cup indicated above.
Mix 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, gluten flour, yeast and hot water for one minute. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. This allows the yeast to proof a bit and the hot water to soften the wheat a little.
While allowing the dough to rest combine the salt, oil, honey, barley malt syrup and lemon juice in a small bowl. After dough has rested for 10 minutes add the wet ingredient mixture to the dough and mix for about one minute.
Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour a cup at a time, combining each addition completely before adding the next. Knead the dough for 10 minutes (12-14 if doing it by hand) until a soft dough forms and it pulls away from the side of the bowl. Form the dough into loaves and place in greased loaf pans.
Turn on oven to any temperature for 1 minute and then turn it off. Place loaves into the warmed oven (with oven turned off) and allow to rise for 15 minutes, dough should double in size.
Leaving the loaves in the oven set it for 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes until deep golden brown and loaves sound hallow. Removed from the oven and place on cooling rack. Coat the tops with butter if desired. Allow loaves to cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans and cool bread on rack until cooled completely.
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
2-3 T. Honey (I love to use carmalized honey, the flavor is deeper)
1 tsp. vanilla paster (or extract)
Beat butter until fluffy.
Add honey and vanilla and beat until combined.