I've made a lot of whole wheat bread since I bought a bread machine about a decade ago. I haven't made much really good whole wheat bread though. Most of the time, it has come out relatively heavy and dense. I'd pour the ingredients into the machine and the brick of brown bread that came out was usually only about 25% bigger than the dough ball that had formed at the start of the process.
I used to think this was because of Japanese yeast or possibly because the bread machine didn't knead the dough well enough. Eventually, I just concluded that whole wheat bread was dense by nature and that I was never going to be able to make a loaf which was relatively light. This was pretty frustrating because I can buy whole wheat bread which has a pretty decent texture at Japanese markets, but it costs about $1.30 for 3 tiny slices. If food manufacturers can make whole wheat bread that is relatively light, why can't I?
After years of bread so dense I'm surprised it didn't form its own singularity, I finally stumbled upon what seems to make the difference, wheat gluten. If you add a couple of tablespoons of vital wheat gluten to the dough, it seems to puff up and make a much lighter whole wheat loaf. With a little help from a random recipe I ran across on the web and some experimentation on my part, I finally have a recipe for what I'd consider about the best bread machine recipe for whole wheat bread. For those in Japan, please note that you can get vital wheat gluten from the Foreign Buyer's Club.
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread (for ABM):
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/4 cup Canola oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
- 3 1/4 cups (regular) whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup oatmeal (regular rolled oats - not quick)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. yeast
If you use honey, note that bread will be a little dark even with a light crust color setting. Also, when you toast it, it will tend to toast pretty rapidly because of the extra sugar, particularly if you use a high setting on a toaster oven. I think it would be possible, however, to make this with sugar instead of honey, but you might have to make some minor adjustment to the amount of wheat flour because the honey is liquid and sugar is not. Also, I'm not sure if the yeast will be quite as effective feeding off of sugar as compared to honey. Using more "nutritious" oils and sugars tends to give me a better rise.