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I'm aiming to make a simple bread from as few ingredients as possible; ideally only stone ground whole wheat flour, water, and yeast. I'm having a hard time finding a recipe like that specifically for stone ground flour.

So far this recipe seems closest to what I'm looking for. However, I would prefer to avoid using honey (and sugar) if possible.

How would I go about modifying this recipe to account for the lack of honey? I'm not even quite sure what the honey is providing in this recipe.

If it's flavor, I'm fine with the bread having no sweetness.

If it's for the yeast to eat, I don't quite know how much flour I would want to substitute to make up for the loss of the honey.

If it improves the texture of the dough or finished bread, I have no idea how to make modifications to the recipe. I've read that with this kind of flour, people have better luck with texture by allowing the flour to soak for longer.

How can I remove the honey from this recipe and end up with a decent bread?

Edit: oops, I just noticed the comments on the page suggest removing the honey. Could I get a second opinion on that, I guess?

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    I highly recommend using salt. The dough will be sticky and loose otherwise and with whole grains especially this can be a problem. Honey is not necessary. It is not food for the yeast. The flour contains enough food already. Honey will increase browning, mask bitterness, and if you use too much it will actually slow down the fermentation. To make a decent bread the main thing with whole grains is using enough water. It should feel too wet when kneading starts. The whole wheat flour will take quite a while to fully absorb the water. Also fermenting for a long time helps enormously. – user52037 Apr 21 '17 at 21:14
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You do not need to find a formula to follow. Basic bread is only four ingredients (three if you omit the salt).

Learn how to use baker's percentages and you can adjust the amount of ingredients to suit your taste. Search for baker's percentages and you get lots of info, but basically it's a system that bakers use to standardize formulas so that they can be scaled up or down easily.

Flour is always 100%, and every other ingredient is a percentage of the flour. Start with 70% hydration for your first loaf (hydration is the term for the percentage of liquid in the dough). Salt is usually 2% and yeast is 1% or less. You need to use a scale to get accurate measuring results and use grams because it much easier to work in units of 10's than 1/4 cups etc.

Start with a 500g flour, 350g water (70%), 1g salt (or not) and 1/2g yeast. Next batch change the water if you want but leave the others the same (if you omit the salt you will want to adjust the yeast down as salt is inhibits the yeast).

  • That's very helpful information. Thank you. – Paul Apr 21 '17 at 22:44
  • This is true but doesn't really answer the question. Whole wheat flour introduces specific problems that should be compensated for. If you use a recipe designed for bread flour with whole wheat flour the results will be disappointing. – Sobachatina Apr 23 '17 at 16:22
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Stone ground flour is simply whole wheat flour. It is differentiated from whole wheat flour that has been ground with rollers or impact grinders in that the grinding with stones does not heat the flour as much. It is thought that this leaves more nutrition.

You can look for any whole wheat bread recipe.

Whole wheat is a little trickier to bake good bread with for a couple reasons:

  • It has much stronger flavor than white flour.
    Honey is often used to compensate for the bitterness. Using flour from hard white wheat will be milder than from hard red wheat.
  • It goes bad fast.
    It is full of oils that will quickly go rancid. I recommend either using it quickly or storing your flour in the freezer. Of course, the best option is to grind it yourself on demand. Whole wheat flour stored outside of the freezer will taste noticeably less fresh after just a couple days although it will still be edible for longer.
  • It makes dense bread
    Whole wheat flour has less gluten than refined bread flour. The shards of bran in whole wheat cut up gluten and result in denser loaves. One way to combat this is to use flour ground as finely as possible. I've read this is sometimes worse with stone ground flour. Another option is to add gluten or some bread flour.

I bake often with whole wheat but only rarely with 100% whole wheat. 100% whole wheat can be bitter and is very difficult to keep from being very dense. I use 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat and that produces my preferred combination of hearty flavor and lightness.

The honey in your recipe, besides improving the flavor, will make the bread a little more tender. I second that you can leave it out.

Also, while not in your short list, one ingredient that you cannot omit: Salt.

  • Thank you for your reply. You are right about the salt! As for the flavor, I'm willing to try a bitter bread. I'm hoping to get a good baseline of technique and ratios for texture and density before I experiment with flavors. Do you have any tips to counteract the loss of tenderness from honey or the general density of whole wheat bread, aside from using some amount of bread flour? – Paul Apr 21 '17 at 4:37
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    +1, but still a small correction: You can certainly omit the salt. Salted bread is not the only bread flavor that's good, it is just a matter of most people being accustomed to it. – rumtscho Apr 21 '17 at 8:16
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    There's a university food research lab that was experimenting w/ making bread from whole ground wheat (and not the separated & recombined stuff), but they are also working on strains of wheat / grains specifically for this purpose: thebreadlab.wsu.edu/about-the-bread-lab – Joe Apr 21 '17 at 12:43
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    Stone ground flour is not exclusively whole wheat. I use ONLY stone ground flour of any variety because the giant mills with steel rollers over heat the flour and kill some of the nutrients and enzymes. – Alaska Man Apr 21 '17 at 17:54

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