I ended up with a bag of vital wheat gluten. It says on the bag: “Added to bread dough, it helps retain the gas and steam from baking and gives more volume to the baked bread. It can be especially helpful for baking breads made with coarse, whole grain flours.” So I decided to use it to make an entirely whole wheat no-knead bread, which is currently doing it’s long rise on the top of my refrigerator. I used the tips from Cook’s Illustrated No-Knead Bread 2.0, and here is the recipe I’m using:
- 3 cups whole wheat flour (I used Stone-Buhr).
- 1/4 teaspoon instant (aka Rapid Rise, QuickRise, Instant Active Dry, Perfect Rise, or Bread Machine Yeast) yeast
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten (a recipe on the bag called for 2 T. for a loaf using 4 1/2 C flour so I guessed on my amount)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons beer (an American style lager is best, say Bud Light, though all I could find was Fosters at our local market)
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add wet ingredients and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. (I needed to add a teeny bit more water.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. I put it on top of my fridge, today it’s supposed to be in the 80s here so I’ll probably move it to the landing on the stairs.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Put down a square of parchment paper and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. I lift it into a mixing bowl, cover with a cotton towel or plastic wrap again and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 4 to 6 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. I put in the lid as well, but next to the pot instead of on the pot. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Lift the parchment with the dough on it from the mixing bowl into the hot pot, be careful. Shake pot once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 [10 or 15] minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.