We bake a lot of bread around here. Store-bought bread can’t compare to fresh bread straight out of the oven. I realized lately, though, that my main bread recipe is really lacking in directions. I’ve made bread for so many years I know how I like to do it and the order I like to add ingredients. So when my boys mix up bread (yes, since my oldest and only girl is one, this job falls to the boys) I find myself saying things like “Don’t put the salt on top of the yeast, you’re going to kill the yeast,” or “Don’t put the fat in until you’ve put in a good amount of flour; yeast doesn’t like fat.”
So I decided that I would write out directions for them so that they’d how to do things the right way. Their bread usually rose, eventually, but sometimes, I have to admit, it was a rather slow process. Today when my son followed these directions, he had the most beautiful, lively dough. I don’t know why I didn’t do this a long time ago.
The following recipe is for delicious whole wheat dinner rolls. If you use a good quality whole wheat flour, you can use almost 100% whole wheat. Experiment with different amounts and see what works best for you. You’ll notice, too, that I’m using a Bosch Mixer, which I absolutely love. It takes most of the work out of making bread, but it is completely unnecessary. I mixed up bread for years by hand.
Delicious Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
- Put six cups warm water in a large mixing bowl. This can be half milk.
- Add 2 Tablespoons yeast, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups whole wheat flour. Mix well. This makes what’s called a sponge and is a good base to allow the yeast to grow a bit. It feeds on the sugar and flour.
- Melt 1 1/2 cup butter (or lard, coconut oil, or fat of your choice) in small saucepan. Allow to cool. Depending on the type of fat used and the temperature it may not need melting.
- Meanwhile, add 4 eggs. These can be cracked into a small bowl first if you’re not confident of your egg cracking skills.
- Add 2 Tablespoons salt, and an optional 1 cup ground flax seed. The flax seed looks good in the final product, gives the bread a great flavor, and is good for you, too. I grind my flax seed in the blender and store it in the freezer.
- Add the cooled melted butter.
- Beat well. Then add 8 more cups whole wheat and 2 cups white flour kneading well after each addition. If using a Bosch mixer, mix for 8-10 minutes. If doing it by hand, I would probably mix it for 8-10 minutes after I had all the flour in. A good long kneading is what makes beautiful buns. When we made this today I added a bit more whole wheat flour (about one extra cup) because the dough was a bit sticky. Looking back, this might not have been necessary since the dough could have been softer.
- Allow to rise until double. Beat down. Allow to rise again until about double.
- Cut into uniform pieces and form into buns by rolling them under the palm of your hand while forming into a ball by applying pressure with your thumb and fingers. Place on greases cookie sheets.
This technique takes a while to learn, but my boys can form pretty good buns by now. I got three cookie sheets full of buns.
- Allow to rise again until about double in size and you can see small air pockets forming under the surface of the dough.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 14-16 minutes until lightly brown. Remove from oven and brush with butter.
If you flip the pan around after about 10 minutes, they’ll bake more evenly. I bake one pan at a time and this usually works out well, because the pans usually rise at different speeds. If they’re all rising at the same speed I’ll put some in a warmed-up oven to hurry them along.
- That’s it. Slather with butter and enjoy. Is there anything better than hot buns, fresh from the oven?
These are some of the best buns you’ve ever tasted, though I will admit my mom’s are better. Maybe it’s because she lets hers rise longer, and I always get impatient or scared they’ll fall on me. Or maybe Mom’s cooking just always tastes better.
This might look like a big recipe, but they don’t last long around here. You could use this same recipe for bread if you made the dough slightly stiffer, but sometimes I use the same dough and just make half into bread and half into buns. And sometimes I even roll out a section, spread with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and make healthy cinnamon rolls. Mmm!
If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out. Happy baking!
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