Br. Willis’ Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

There was a member of my congregation that moved away some years ago but he left his mark by leaving behind his wonderful, delicious whole wheat bread recipe. It was literally to die for. He has since passed away but every time I read his handwritten recipe and bake this bread, I think of him with great affection.

Some years ago I bought a whisper mill. A friend told me she thinks the store bought whole wheat flour is a little bitter when she bakes bread and that the freshly ground flour is much better.

Whisper Mill grinder and holding container
Wheat berries

The Grinder is attached to the collection bowl via the green tube as shown. The Mill is turned on prior to loading the wheat berries. It is very loud although the actual grinding is much quieter. You may adjust the fineness of the grind. About 2 1/2 – 3 cups of wheat berries equal 4 cups of wheat flour depending upon how fine you grind it.

I am not the best bread baker in the world but I did, through trial and error, learn from my mistakes. First, baking whole wheat bread is not easy as my first attempts served better as door stops than sustenance. The following is one half of the recipe that will make 2 loaves. My suggestions will follow.

2 1/2 cups very hot water – 120 degrees

Add to the water 2 pks. of yeast(check the expiration on the yeast packet), 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup canola oil

(If you are making whole wheat bread using no white flour, crush and add to the liquid 4 tablets of Vitamin C tablets or 1/4 tsp ascorbic acid)

Let stand to allow the yeast to bubble. Grease pans while you are waiting.

Gradually add in all 6 cups whole wheat flour OR 4 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white flour. Knead with dough hook or by hand until dough is elastic and not sticky. Add more flour if sticky. Put a small amount of oil on counter top and pour out dough. Divide dough in half and form into loaves and place in prepared pans. Put in warm spot, covered with damp cloth and let rise until 2 1/2 times the size (about 30 minutes) Place pans in unheated oven set at 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Now for my tips and suggestions:

  1. I use a mixture of whole wheat and white flour because, as I have said, my whole wheat bread tends to be on the heavier side. One friend told me to add gluten but never told me how much so I didn’t. When I have time I will experiment with that.
  2. The ascorbic acid or Vitamin C helps for greater loaf volume, faster rising and finer, tenderer crumb. Or so I am told. I have used it and with this batch I didn’t. I didn’t notice much difference but I now large bakeries use it.
  3. Make sure your yeast is new. If it doesn’t bubble in the water, chances are it is old and your bread will not rise.
  4. This recipe can also be made using 1/3 cup molasses instead of honey. I will make a darker colored loaf but equally as tasty.
  5. Many ovens have a proof option. It will heat up the oven slightly – place the loaves inside to rise.
  6. The dough in the mixer should start cleaning the sides of the mixing bowl after 5 minutes.