Simple Crusty Whole Grain Bread Recipe

Few things in life are as rewarding as eating a slice of fresh-baked bread smothered in butter. Perhaps it is the indelible memories of my mother’s home-baked bread. Perhaps it is more than simple nostalgia. Is it the delicate interplay between the bread’s soft doughy centre and the crunchy bite of its crust brought together by the rich and decadent saltiness of the butter? Regardless, every family deserves a simple crusty whole grain bread recipe. What follows is our family recipe, we hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.

Henckels Red Round Cast Iron Casserole Dish with Lid

This 5.5qt dutch oven is our secret to crusty bread. Add it to your collection today.

The Story Behind our Whole Grain Bread Recipe

When we started baking our own bread many years ago, we tackled some fine cookbooks. We tackled them in search of the perfect bread. It all started with Nick Malgieri’s wonderful Bread cookbook. We read it cover to cover and tried out many of his recipes. Our second bread related book was Bourke Street Bakehouse. Did we ever eat our way through that one too.

Both books offered many wonderful bread styles to practice with. We learned how to shape dough to get the best rise possible. The recipes in the book also came with many variations; providing nut, seed and fruited versions of the basics. But we kept on looking. But there was so much to learn. Complex rising processes including starters and poolish doughs. Detailed kneading and folding procedures that would span days. The active management of the bread, though useful, proved to be challenging. Simple was our motto, so we decided to try our hand at no-knead recipes.

A New Bread Journey

We were initially apprehensive. How could something that we had come to learn as complex and time consuming be simplified to the point of not requiring any kneading?

We landed, rather quickly, on a recipe from Canadian chef Ricardo. Ricardo is a Canadian cooking icon, most notably so in his French language shows and cookbooks.

Ricardo’s recipe for a crusty white bread was both simple and required absolutely no kneading. This turned out to be essential to our progress as bread makers. By simplifying the process we were able to better understand the delicate interplay between the flour, yeast and water. We learned how to effectively manage active yeast by tackling a simple dough recipe. This proved essential to our journey.

The finished bread loaf in its cooking vessel, the Henckels 5.5qt dutch oven

And here we are, presenting to you our version of a twice removed recipe by way of Canada’s own Ricardo. Our version takes the plain old boring white flour and spices things up with local whole wheat and light rye flours. We buy all our flours from Arva Flour Mill, and we recommend you do too.

The Crusty Whole Grain Bread Recipe

The soft doughy texture set against the dark crust.

Ingredients

  • 325 grams of white wheat flour
  • 100 grams of whole wheat flour
  • 80 grams of light rye flour
  • 7 grams of flaked kosher salt
  • 4 grams of active dry yeast
  • 410 grams of cold water

Directions

Step 1: The Rise

  1. Before starting the whole grain bread recipe, plan your steps so that you can bake the bread early the next morning. This means you’ll be doing the first phase of the rise the night before.
  2. Weigh and prepare your ingredients and combine them in a non-reactive bowl. We love the simplicity and durability of this Pyrex mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the ingredients until combined. You do not need the dough to be smooth, but mixed throughout. 40 to 50 mixing strokes should do the trick.
  4. Cover the glass bowl with cling wrap and place in a warm area for 8 to 12 hours. We use the proofing setting on our oven to great success.

Step 2: The Bake

  1. After the initial rise, fold the dough onto itself without removing it from the bowl and let rise for an additional 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Get your baking vessel ready. We use a cast iron dutch oven and we love the crust it creates. You can always use bread pans too. The dutch oven we use is a 5.5 qt dutch oven by Henckels. We’d prefer something smaller to help shape the bread as it bakes, but it does the trick.
  3. Pre-heat your oven at 450 degrees fahrenheit (230 degrees celsius) and if you are using a dutch oven, place it in the over for 30 to 40 minutes prior to you completing the second rise.
  4. Layer the dutch oven with parchment paper, being careful not to burn yourself in the process. Place the dough into the dutch oven by simply scraping it out of the glass mixing bowl and into the dutch oven. Using a flexible dough scraper will make this task easier and more enjoyable.
  5. With a sharp blade, etch a cross on the top of the bread and cover the bread with the dutch oven lid.
  6. Set the timer for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the lid and set the timer for another 25 minutes.
  7. After 50 minutes, your bread will be ready and you can remove it from the oven and dutch oven to cool.
  8. Slice, smother in butter and enjoy! If you’re looking for a spectacular carving knife we highly recommend the Henckels Twin Master 11.5″ Carving knife.

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