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Whole Wheat Freezer Bread dough, with a bowl and spoon – no mixer needed!

Whole wheat loaf from frozen dough, sliced

Even if you love to bake, there are times it can be a challenge to keep fresh bread in the house! I am going to show you how to take your 2 hands, a bowl, and a wooden spoon to mix large batch of bread dough, enough for 4 loaves, but instead of baking it right now, you will freeze it! Once a week or so, you can thaw a piece of dough and bake a fresh loaf of homemade bread. That’s right, a fresh loaf of bread each week for a month, and only one mess to clean up. 

Ingredients

3 tablespoons (28 g) yeast (regular or instant is fine)

5 1/4 cups (1192 g or 1245 ml or 1.25 liters) lukewarm water (can use part milk or potato water)

1/4 cup (84 g) molasses, honey, or sweetener of choice

1/4 cup (57 g) olive oil or melted butter + extra for your work surface and for coating the dough

4 teaspoons (24 g) salt

3 cups (375 g) all-purpose or bread flour (strong white flour)

9 Cups (1,080 g) whole wheat flour (wholemeal flour)

Note: If you have a grain mill, you will need 6 cups (1,080 g) of wheat

Supplies:

Freezer – because this is a freezer recipe

Extra-large mixing bowl, 8-quarts (7.5 liters) is a good size. You want a big bowl that allows room at the top for stirring without overflow. A big crockery bowl, giant stainless steel salad bowl, enamel or plastic dishpan, a plastic dishpan all work

Sturdy wooden spoon with a long handle or a Danish dough whisk (even better!)

Bowl scraper or dough card

Bench knife or a large chef’s knife

2 large (21×15-inch / 53×38 cm) cookie sheets

Plastic wrap and/or parchment paper

2 gallon-size Ziploc freezer bags

Instructions

1.  Prepare space in your freezer for two cookie sheets. Line cookie sheets with silicone mats, plastic wrap, or parchment paper and set aside. Label gallon-size freezer bags. This bread dough lasts in the freezer for four weeks, so look at the calendar and count 4 weeks ahead. Mark that as a best by date on the bags. This is the date you will want to bake the bread dough by because that is when the yeast is still active.

 

2.  Measure the yeast and lukewarm water into the mixing bowl, stir, and give it a few minutes to dissolve. Then add molasses, fat, and salt. Add the white flour and stir well. Begin adding the whole wheat flour a cup at time, stirring it in as you go. If you have a dough whisk, you will appreciate how much easier it is to stir than it is with a wooden spoon. The dough will begin to pull away from the bowl and form a mass. When this happens, stop stirring and let the dough rest covered, for 5-10 minutes to allow the bran particles in the whole wheat flour to absorb water. This makes kneading easier.

 

3. Meanwhile, oil a work surface with a comfortable height, such as a table or counter, and sprinkle some of the flour called for in the recipe over it.  

 

3. Turn the dough out onto our prepared surface. Time to knead! Rub a teaspoon of oil into the palms of your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Keep a bowl scraper handy – or a rubber spatula will work. Pick up the edge of the dough farthest away from you and fold it towards yourself. Press down with the heel of your hand, or both hands. Rotate the dough a quarter turn, pick up the dough, and press down. Knead for 8-12 minutes.

 

4. If the dough sticks to your hands, rub a little more oil on them. As the dough starts to stick to the table, scrape it with the dough scraper, rub a little more oil in and sprinkle more of the flour called for in the recipe. Knead with enough pressure so that the dough sticks to itself when folded, without breaking the skin of the dough. You are developing a smooth surface on the bottom on the dough, the side touching the table.  

 

5. Kneading becomes intuitive with practice, so be patient with yourself. If you get tired, you can cover the dough and give it a 5-10 minute rest. You don’t want to let it go longer than 5-10 minutes because you want to save the activity of the yeast for later.

 

6. By the end, the dough should feel smooth and resilient. Bread dough made with whole grain flour will retain a certain amount of stickiness, like the sticky side of a Post It note. 

 

7.  Pat the dough out and use a chef’s knife or a bench knife to divide the dough in 4 even pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, tucking edges under and preserving a smooth skin on top. Rub a little oil on the surface. 

 

8.  Place 2 balls of dough on each of the prepared cookie sheets and press firmly to flatten into disks about an inch (2.5 cm) thick. Work quickly! Cover the cookie sheet completely with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours (overnight is fine).

 

9. The next day, wrap each piece individually and place in labeled freezer bags. Again, work quickly so that the dough doesn’t have a chance to thaw. Get them back in the freezer as soon as possible! 

 

9. Now, just pause and enjoy the feeling of a freezer stocked with dough for a month’s baking! It is such a good feeling! You did it!

 

To Bake: start the night before. 

1.  Take a disk of frozen dough out of the freezer. Unwrap it and reserve the wrappings. Place the dough on a large, greased plate. Cover with the wrappings and thaw in the fridge overnight. 

 

2.  The next day, oil a work surface and grease an 8×4-inch (20×11 cm) loaf pan. Place the thawed dough on the plate, smooth side up, and flatten evenly with the palms of your hands. Fold in thirds like a letter, then use your palms to pat the dough into a 7×9-inch (18×23 cm) rectangle. Roll the dough up like a log from one of the narrow ends and place in prepared loaf pan. 

 

3.  Cover the pan with the wrappings again and let rise about an hour. It will not reach the top of the pan. Meanwhile, set the oven to 350°F (175°C) to preheat. The touch test will help you determine if your bread is ready to bake. Simply touch the dough. It should barely show your fingerprint.

 

4.  Bake 35-40 minutes, until the loaf is well-browned and done. To test for doneness, carefully tip the loaf out of the pan and inspect the bottom. The crust should be evenly browned and sound hollow when thumped with a finger. A food thermometer will read 190-195 F (87-90 C). 

 

5.  Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Notes

Once you get in the routine of mixing up a batch of freezer bread dough once a month, you will find it is really very simple and you can do it without too much effort or mess. You will notice that the first two loaves rise more than the last two. They all taste good, and I hope you find this recipe to be as big a time-saver as it has been for me. 

Keywords: bowl, wooden spoon, handmade, freezer dough, whole wheat

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