Whole Wheat Crusty French Bread Recipe
This recipe is all you’ll need to try all of these things. It makes two loves of slightly sweet, soft, french bread. I use 1/2 white whole wheat flour in this recipe because I try to add as many whole grains to our diet as possible, while still enjoying our food.
Start by dissolving the active dry yeast and sugar in warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then add your salt, vital wheat gluten, and 1//2 of the flour. Mix it all up and gradually add the remained of the flour until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough by hand for 12-15 minutes and in a stand mixer for 8-10 minutes.
Now, the trick with this recipe is to come back and knead the dough a few times during its first rise. Not a lot, just walk back every 20 minutes or so and knead it 3 – 4 times. Then, just re-cover the dough with the plastic and walk away. This may seem like an annoying extra step, but if you are home anyway, it only takes a minute.
After you have allowed your dough to rise for an hour (including the 3 times you stopped to knead it), punch it down and divide it into two balls. Roll our each ball into a rectangle and roll it up length wise and taper the loaf at the ends. Cut 5-6 slits across the top, approximately 1/4 inch deep. Repeat with the other ball of dough.
Gently transfer your two formed loaves to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with corn starch. Cover the formed loaves with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise again, until doubled in size. This should take 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and place an oven safe dish filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven. The steam from the water will help to create a chewy crust.
When your loaves have doubled in size, brush them with your egg wash and bake in the oven for 25 minutes – reapplying the egg wash half way through.
Allow your bread to cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes prior to eating.
- 1¾ cups warm water
- 4½ tsp active dry yeast OR 2 (.25 oz) packets active dry yeast
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 TB vital wheat gluten
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 TB white sugar
- 1 TB corn starch
- 1 large egg
- 1 TB milk
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes. It should start to bubble up.
- Mix in ½ of the flour, and all of the vital wheat gluten and salt. Gradually add in the rest of the flour until a soft dough forms. You may not need all of the flour.
- Knead the dough by hand for 12-15 minutes or in a stand mixer for 8-10 minutes.
- Turn your dough out onto a flat surface (a clean counter top or large cutting board works well) and spray the entire loaf lightly with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise.
- Return to the dough approximately every 20 minutes and knead 3-4 times. Replace the plastic wrap each time - ensuring the dough is completely covered.
- After the dough has risen for 1 hour, punch it down and divide it into two balls.
- Roll out each ball into a rectangle and roll it up length wise and taper the loaf at the ends. Cut 5-6 slits across the top, approximately ¼ inch deep. Repeat with the other ball of dough.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and sprinkle with corn starch. Gently transfer the loaves to the cookie sheet and cover with greased plastic wrap.
- Allow to rise until doubled in size, approximately 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and place an oven safe dish filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven.
- Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg and milk.
- Once your loaves have doubled in size, brush them with your egg wash and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes - reapplying the egg wash half way through. The bread should be golden brown.
- Allow bread to cool prior to serving.
Source: Adapted from Chew Out Loud.
Stay tuned over the next week for several ways to use this french bread including: cheesy garlic bread, homemade garlic croutons, french bread pizza, and Italian style bread crumbs.