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Baking Whole Wheat Bread

Whole wheat flour is far healthier than white flour, which loses most of its nutrients to processing.

As a whole food, whole wheat flour retains its fiber and high antioxidant content, which means that it’s not only more nutritious, but also helps to prevent disease. Research has also shown that those who eat whole grains regularly tend to weigh less (Slavin, 2004).

Unfortunately, many people don’t like making bread with whole wheat flour because they find that the bread has a heavier texture or they just don’t like the taste. If texture is the issue (loaves of bread turning out like dense, dry bricks), there are plenty of tricks to improve things:

  • Add additional wheat gluten: You can make whole wheat bread dough fluffier by adding a tablespoon of gluten for each 2-3 cups of flour in the recipe. Gluten is already added to some whole wheat flours formulated for bread machines, and it can be purchased online and at many health stores.
  • Add softeners: Incorporating 1-2 tablespoons of honey or butter or 1/4 cup of potato flakes per loaf tends to create softer, moister bread. Replacing some of the water with milk or using some powdered milk in the recipe can also be beneficial.
  • Let the dough rest before kneading: Whole wheat flour benefits from having time to absorb moisture and soften up; wait about 20 minutes before you start working the dough.
  • Knead more: Kneading whole wheat breads for a longer time helps them to develop a better texture.
  • Add an acidic ingredient: The most highly rated whole wheat bread recipes usually call for a dough-enhancing acidic ingredient such as lemon juice, yogurt, or buttermilk to create a softer, fluffier texture.

If it’s the flavor of whole wheat rather than the texture that is objectionable, try other whole grains. Spelt flour has a mild, nutty flavor that is more appealing to some people who dislike whole wheat, and there are plenty of other whole grain options as well. Experiment with different whole grains to determine which flavors and textures you find most appealing.

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