Okay…so I thought I could bake a pretty good loaf of whole wheat bread, until… I had my friend Emilies bread & WOW, she put mine to shame! For the longest time we couldn’t figure out what the difference was in our bread. Mine was great right out of the oven, but hers was AWESOME out of the oven AND several days later. It was moist, soft & elasticy (is that a word??) like store bought bread. We compared recipes & realized she does three things different. First, her recipe has Vital Wheat Gluten in it, second, she ‘sponges’ her dough (I will explain this process below), and third she uses special bread pans (not really…just ones that acctually make your bread come out without ripping the sides apart!) These three additions to your homemade bread will make ALL the difference! So…here is the ‘secret’ recipe:

Emilie’s Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 4 8/4 inch loaves.

7 c. whole wheat flour (grind your own if you have a wheat grinder)
2/3 c. vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 T. instant yeast

5 c. steaming hot water (120-130 F)

2 T. salt
2/3 c. oil
2/3 c. honey or 1 c. sugar (I like honey the best!)
2 1/2 T. bottled lemon juice

5 c. whole wheat flour

Mix together the first three ingredients in your mixer with a dough hook. Add water all at once and mix for 1 minute; cover and let rest for 10 minutes (this is called sponging). Add salt, oil, honey or sugar, and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute. Add last flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between each cup. Beat for about 6-10 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This makes very soft dough.

Pre-heat oven for 1 minute to lukewarm and turn off. Turn dough onto oiled counter top; divide, shape into loaves place in oiled bread pans. Let rise in warm oven for 10-15 minutes until dough reaches top of pan. Do not remove bread from oven; turn oven to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks. This recipe can be halved to make 2 loaves.

*She ONLY uses Bakers Secret 8×4 inch non stick pans (we could only find them at Smith’s grocery store, strange enough).

**Another tip..when the dough is put into the bread pans, squish the dough softly into the corners of your bread loaf pans. This will make your bread cook more evenly and not have the large lump in the middle of your loaf.