Wednesday Baking-Whole Wheat Bread

by Kristen on March 11, 2009 · 76 comments

in Wednesday Baking, Yeast Bread

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This is a very altered version of a Cook’s recipe for whole wheat bread. Theirs has wheat germ and rye in it because they were going for a very nutty, wheaty flavor. I prefer a milder bread, so I leave those ingredients out.

Whole wheat bread can sometimes be heavy because whole wheat flour doesn’t have as much gluten as white flour does(gluten helps yeast doughs to rise well). Because of this, I like to use a combination of white and whole wheat flours which helps the end product to be softer and lighter. You can use more whole wheat flour or less according to your preference.

I usually make three loaves of this at a time because three loaf pans can fit comfortably in my oven with plenty of room for air circulation. However, I’m going to post the ingredient amounts for two loaves and you can multiply the recipe according to the number of loaves you wish to make.

I use a stand mixer to make the dough, but you can mix it up by hand if you wish…you just may need to knead the dough a bit longer.

Printable Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

2 1/3 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter , melted
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface

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1. Combine 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, the yeast, and the salt in the bowl of a mixer.

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2. Add warm water, honey, and melted butter. Mix on low speed until ingredients are combined, then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

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3. Mix in the remaining whole wheat flour, and add enough of the white flour to make a kneadable dough(it should still be fairly soft, though).

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4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic(if you mixed the dough by hand, you may need to knead it a bit longer).

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5. Put the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes(an hour if your house is cold).

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6. Punch the dough down, divide it in half, and roll each half out into a rectangular shape. Starting from the short end, roll each loaf up, and place into a greased 9×5 inch bread pan. The rolling may seem like a fussy step, but it produces a loaf with a better crumb and structure, and it also will make your loaves look better.

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7. Cover the loaf with a wet tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled. Here’s mine before rising(sans the tea towel, obviously):

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And here it is after rising.

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8. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Alternatively, you can insert an instant read thermometer into the long side of the loaf…when it reads 205 degrees, the bread is done. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool before slicing. I highly recommend slathering a warm slice with butter. ;)

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Leave a Comment

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kalee March 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Hello! Love your blog! My husband and I spent a day backreading all your posts! Is there a way to do this recipe with just unbleached all purpose white flour? Thanks!

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2 Kristen March 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Yep, you certainly can. Just substitute white flour for the whole wheat flour and you’ll be good to go.

And thanks…I’m glad you’re enjoying my whole blog so much! lol

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3 Amy N March 11, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Kristen,

Do you have any good recipes or uses for old bread, heels and such? I keep leftovers in my freezer, but I don’t know what to do with them. Any ideas?

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4 danyel January 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

you can also use them to make bread pudding

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5 Susan@Emperorp November 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I make French Toast with mine. I also make breadcrumbs out of them to use on Mac and Cheese Gratin or I season the breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese to coat chicken drumsticks that I then bake in the oven.

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6 Amanda March 11, 2009 at 9:57 pm

That looks really yummy.

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7 Kristen March 12, 2009 at 8:44 am

Amy-croutons are a good thing to make. I posted a recipe a while ago…just put “crouton” into the search box on the upper right hand side of my blog, and it should come up.

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8 EngineerMom March 12, 2009 at 8:55 am

Thanks!

Have you ever tried adding oatmeal to your white/wheat bread?

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9 Cate March 12, 2009 at 8:59 am

This looks fantastic. I haven’t quite made the leap to making our own bread yet…I’m worried that with only two people, we won’t eat it quickly enough, even storing it in the fridge. Maybe I’ll just have to try this recipe sometime and see how it turns out!

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10 mike March 12, 2009 at 8:15 pm

That looks great. They say wheat bread is more healthy than white bread. More fiber.

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11 EngineerMom March 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

Cate – It’s just me and my husband. I make two loaves of bread each week. We put one in the freezer, then take it out to thaw overnight when we get close to the end of the first loaf. Even with both of us only using it for toast in the morning and sometimes to go with dinner (one slice each for both), we go through two loaves in 7-10 days.

A fresh loaf will keep on the counter in a plastic bag for up to 7 days. Putting bread in the freezer in a ziploc bag, then taking it out to thaw (will keep 5-7 days once thawed) is better than keeping it in the fridge – it doesn’t get as dried out.

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12 Frugal Liz March 16, 2009 at 5:00 pm

A few years ago I developed carpal tunnel syndrome and couldn’t knead bread dough anymore. I was pretty sad at first, until I bought a bread machine. Bread machines are AWESOME. I don’t bake the bread in mine, I just use it to mix and knead the dough, but it still not only saves me time, but the bread turns out better, because I don’t have to add as much flour to the dough. I make all kinds of breads I avoided before due to sticky dough, like pita bread and bagels and sweet breads. My bread machine cost me $70 at Target and has lasted for 5 years so far.

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13 cathy April 13, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Hi Kristen

Been reading your blog for ages now (think I found it through myzerowaste.com) but just had to de-lurk to say THANKS for this recipe – it’s the best bread I’ve ever baked!!

Cathy :-)

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14 mellisa rock May 25, 2009 at 1:07 am

I love your blog…I buy 3 loaves of whole wheat bread a week…this looks so yummy but I am not a baker. I can cook like noone’s business but baking seems to be beyond me. I am inspired by your blog to give it a try though. Wish me luck. By the way I love the food spoilage photos. I hate hate to throw out food. Good luck and thanks for all the great advice.

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15 KTC May 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm

For the first time ever, I’ve successfully baked a loaf of bread incapable of being used as a blunt weapon or plausible building material. Thanks. :-)

I did swap out the honey, butter, and whole wheat flour for sugar, olive oil, and all purpose but it came out just as good.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lunarbipolarity/tags/frugalgirlbread/

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16 gwendolyn i harper February 15, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Thank you for this post. I really needed a laugh at this time in my life.

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17 Linda June 5, 2009 at 7:59 am

Hi-Just wondering why you are kneading by hand at all if you own a kitchenaid mixer? My 6 quart series loves to do all the work of kneading for me!! In fact “it” just made your homemade hamburg buns and they are now rising and getting ready to go in the oven. Can’t wait to try them tonight for dinner!

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18 Susan June 15, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Do you proof the yeast before adding it in step 1? Or just add the dry yeast?

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19 Laura September 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Hey, I like to bake whole wheat bread but I never know what to store it in for freezing and how long to keep it out of the refridgerator. What do you do about that?

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20 Emily January 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I have one loaf rising and the other half of the dough is in the freezer. I had less wheat flour on hand than I thought–about 3/4 cup, so I used that and substituted white flour for the rest of the wheat flour. After mixing in my stand mixer, my dough was much more wet than the dough in your picture looks. I added at least 1 1/2 cups more white flour, plus more when I kneaded it by hand–it was very sticky when I first started kneading by hand. Does the wheat flour absorb a lot more liquid than white?

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21 Kristen January 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Hmmm…I usually feel like the opposite is true! However, I RARELY measure the flour that I use…I just add it until the dough looks and feels right.

The amount of flour dough needs will vary based on humidity and atmosphere and all of that, so if you feel like the dough needs a little more, then go ahead and add some. Bread dough should be slightly soft and sticky, though. As you knead it, the idea is just to keep the outside of the dough floured so it doesn’t stick to the counter.

Boy, that was a disjointed answer. Did it make any sense? Feel free to ask for clarification!

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22 Emily January 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I actually skipped the knead-by-hand-on-the-counter part, and transfered the dough to a greased bowl to rise. I added the additional 1 1/2+ cups of flour while it was still in the mixer. After rising, when I went to punch the dough down, I had a gooey, sticky mess on my hands, so I kneaded in apx. 1 more cup of flour.

Now the loaf is done and out of the oven and looks great (haven’t tasted it yet). I put an egg wash on it just before putting it in the oven, as some of your other bread recipes have that (I brought two beautiful braided loaves to my in-laws’ house for Christmas dinner).

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23 Melissa February 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

I add extra wheat gluten and some dough enhancer to my recipe. This allows me to use only wheat flour. I grind red wheat so it is a bit thicker. If I want a lighter bread then I will add some white flour. I am still experimenting but the vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer helps.

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24 Becky March 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I notice in your bread recipes that they seem to call for butter. .does it make a difference if you use margarine instead?

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25 Rachel March 7, 2010 at 10:23 am

Thanks for posting many photos – so helpful in assessing what the dough is supposed to look like!

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26 Megg March 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm

This is exactly my wheat bread recipe! I feel like I’ve finally (kinda) perfected it and I’m very happy with the result! I’m also relieved that your loaves are slightly lopsided, like mine, haha!

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27 Rachel... a different one April 18, 2010 at 4:32 am

I am currently on my first rise for your bread recipe. I have had ZERO luck baking bread. They always turn into bread bricks. I hope your recipe and techniques will be what i need to succeed. On the other hand, the bread bricks are great for french toast! I will let you know how it turns out.

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28 Rachel... a different one April 18, 2010 at 6:34 am

update…. Yay! The bread turned out well. OK, one loaf turned out well and the other didn’t turn out as well, but that’s because I got too gung ho on the rolling for that loaf. It didn’t rise as high. Lesson learned. Thanks for the easy to follow recipe!

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29 asmara April 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Thank you for this bread recipe. I finally made my first loaf of whole wheat bread that my husband and children absolutely loved. Thank you, thank thank you, I have saved my bread budget, now onto the next thing.

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30 Machen und Tun June 26, 2010 at 4:14 am

Thanks so much for this great recipe, i just did it this morning and i love the fluffyness :-)
this will be my favorite go-to when in need of whole-wheat sandwich bread, itīs so soft and tasty.
thanks again!
claudia

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31 Valerie June 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I made this today, except I only had 1.5 cups of wheat flour. I added 1/2 cup oat flour and the rest was white flour…This has such a nice texture and it isn’t as crumby as other breads I have made.
I have a question…why don’t you use GM Better for Bread flour? I notice you buy unbleached AP Flour and I think I read you ONLY buy it…I was just wondering why you don’t buy the bread flour for bread making?
I buy both the AP unbleached and Better for Bread (and I just scored 100lbs the week before Easter at $1.29 a bag!).
BTW I love your blog! I have made yogurt once a week since I found your site using your method…The only thing different I do is add a vanilla bean or two when my milk is heating to 180 and remove when I add before I add the sugar and yogurt.

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32 Christina June 12, 2011 at 12:35 am

Can you use this recipe in a bread machine?

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33 Kaitlin July 21, 2011 at 9:33 am

Yup- I just made a loaf using the dough cycle on my bread machine. Super easy! The machine took it through the kneading/rising process, then I punched it down, put it in a greased pan, let it rise the second time, and baked it in my oven (my bread machine makes tall loaves with a hole in the middle for the paddle, so I prefer to bake the dough in a regular pan in my oven).
Oh, just a note- I cut the recipe in half since I could only fit one loaf in my machine at a time!

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34 Einkorn Bread June 13, 2011 at 9:26 am

Beautiful loaf of bread! You mentioned that you used a combination of white and wheat flour so the bread would rise. What kind of wheat did you use?

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35 Shawna June 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

In the pictures I noticed that you used the regular beater. Do you not have the attachment for kneading the dough? And couldn’t you just use it instead of taking it out of the bowl and hand kneading it for five minutes? I’m just wondering about this. I’ve made bread for years but only used my mixer a little. I usually use my bread machine to mix and let it rise.

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36 Trish July 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Just tried your recipe this morning and my goodness, my bread is so much better then store bought! Will go perfectly with carrot soup tonight (had to use up the rest of the baby carrots in the fridge) and this afternoon made a tasty snack with a little almond butter and honey. I’m sold!

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37 Elizabeth August 1, 2011 at 10:04 am

Thank you for sharing this recipe – I’m a fan! The only issue I’ve had so far is that the first time I made the white sandwich bread I followed the recipe exactly and it was far too sweet for me. So when I’ve made it, and this bread, since, I’ve left out all the sweetner except for a teaspoon of sugar to activate the yeast. I think sweet bread must be an American thing! Otherwise, this recipe isthe one I use most often – it’s definitely a winner!

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38 Trisha September 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

Kristen, I would love to make three loaves at a time. Would you share the recipe for making three loaves? I am a fan and this is the best bread I have ever made and I have tried lots of recipes. Perfect for everything bread!! I am a fan and enjoy your blog. Thanks!

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39 Dipty September 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Hi Kristen, Thanks for sharing the recipe. I absolutely love your blog. Your blog is a big inspiration to me. And I especially love your Wednesday baking/cooking posts.

I am very new to baking and I have a question for you. Can I substitute bread flour for all purpose flour? I really need to use the bread flour that I accidentally picked up.

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40 Kristen September 15, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Yup! You can definitely use bread flour. :)

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41 Karen D. September 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Love this recipe. I just pulled two beautiful loaves out of the oven. I used slightly smaller loaf pans and my loaves are super high and light. BTW, I did not have any butter in the house, so I subbed vegetable oil. Worked great and cheaper, too!

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42 bali October 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Hey! i chanced upon ur blog randomly and i love it!! and so i tried to bake my own bread following this receipe (since i completely dislike the bread we get in the supermarket here in singapore…all the preservatives etc).

thank u for making it such an easy process with all the pictures u have.it really helps clueless people like me. my bread wasnt as fully but since it’s the first time i’m glad it’s very edible:))

i just have one qns. i use a convention oven..and the max temp on it is 250 deg. so for how many minutes should the bread bake?

thank u once again!

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43 Kristen October 7, 2011 at 6:57 am

I’d actually say 250 degrees is not hot enough to bake bread. At 250 degrees, I think it’s going to be hard to produce a proper loaf with a nicely browned crust. The minimum temperature I bake my breads at is 325.

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44 Ingrid June 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I believe we are talking the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit degrees here. My Canadian oven shows both, and I see it goes to 260°C and 500°F, respectively.

Just one of those things we’ve got to keep in mind when living in different cultures and looking at recipes all over the world… (such fun, though!)

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45 Jessie October 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I’ll definitely try my hand at this recipe. Although, I only have…awkward pause…one bread pan.

Can I use the rest of the dough to make rolls? Has this been done?

Thanks!

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46 Alice Huang January 1, 2012 at 4:57 am

You know, I halved the recipe since I only had one bread pan as well and it worked great!

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47 KimN October 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm

This looks delicious. I have a quick question, can you substitute oil for the butter? My son can’t have dairy and I know he would love this bread. I mean, I’m sure you can but do you have any idea how it would change the bread (other than flavor of course)?

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48 Elizabeth October 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm

You definitely can, this is what I do! I use about 1/4 cup of rice bran oil (you can use any neutral oil, this is just what I keep in my cupboard).

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49 bali October 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

hello! so i baked the bread at the same temperature as your have recommended. however the center of the bread is still lumpy and slightly moist.

what could be wrong? will it help if i can send you a pic of the bread?

thank u!

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50 Caren June 29, 2012 at 9:36 am

Bali, this would be about 175 C, if I’m calculating correctly. The 350 degrees is Fahrenheit.

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51 Alice Huang January 1, 2012 at 5:00 am

I have the Cook’s Illustrated baking book and was looking to make the whole wheat bread but was so bummed because naturally, I don’t have wheat germ or rye flour on hand and REALLY did not want to go out and buy them just for this. And then I recalled that you had a posted a whole wheat bread recipe a while back. Tried it today and it was fantastic! The loaf is already almost gone and I couldn’t be happier. My best whole wheat bread attempt by far. Thanks very much!

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52 A mason February 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

Is there any change for altitude?

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53 CulinarilyCourtney March 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I have to try this recipe! I recently made my first loaf of whole wheat bread but it didn’t rise as much as I would have liked–this looks fantastic though!

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54 Brandi April 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm

This is the best wheat bread I have ever made! Thank you so much for the recipe!

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55 Meredith @ Slightly Scattered May 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm

This was my first attempt at yeast bread. Thanks so much for your tutorial! I blogged about my experience and linked back to your whole wheat bread recipe and kneading instructions. Thanks so much for such great instructions. My bread turned out perfectly!

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56 genevieve August 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm

BEAUTIFUL ,memorable loaf- very clever method- have never thought to add more liquid first then flour-and rolling the bread-mmmmmmmmmmmm-TA

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57 danny odom September 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I made this bread today and it is the best whole wheat bread I have ever made. I only changed one ingredient as I added an extra 1/4 cup of honey. It was delicious and the texture was great. Thanks for making me have such a good day!

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58 Dede November 15, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Looking very pretty! Can’t wait to taste it!

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59 Yemisi December 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Love the bread. I rolled the second loaf with cinnamon, brown sugar and bananas. Turned out great!!

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60 Danny December 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I made your bread about a month ago and can tell you that I have tried many bread recipes but have never found one as good as this one in terms of texture, beauty and taste. It is marvelous. Thanks for sharing.

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61 Krissy March 6, 2013 at 12:32 am

Can this be done using a hand mixer? I don’t own a stand mixer. If so, which speed setting should I use? Any help would be great! Thank you!!

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62 Kristen March 6, 2013 at 7:55 am

I’m sorry to tell you that a hand mixer is typically not strong enough to handle bread dough. If you wanted to use it, you’d have to not add very much flour while you were using the mixer, and then you’d need to stir in the rest of it by hand.

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63 Elizabeth June 18, 2013 at 6:44 am

This is actually not true – I use a hand-held mixer with dough hooks, and it works just fine. I’m about to inherit my mother-in-law’s Kitchenaid stand mixer though – hurrah!

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64 Angie March 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Making now. About how much additional white flour would you say you use? I’ve made your French bread and hamburger buns, but this is the first time I’ve made bread. I refuse to buy from store anymore. Thank you.

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