Whole wheat has a bad reputation. Dense. Heavy. Dry. But just a few easy-to-follow tips will help you turn your whole wheat bread into the soft, billowy baked treats that you get with white flour, but with fewer calories and carbohydrates and more fiber, calcium and protein.
The recipe for these Honey Wheat Buttermilk Rolls, adapted from the always fabulous Aimee of Simple Bites, makes use of all but one of the tips I collected from around the web with exceptional result. The rolls have a solid, but flaky crust; soft, fluffy inside; and light mouthfeel. They are delicious, and perfect for your holiday dinner table.
** Whole wheat flour has less gluten than white flour, which explains why it yields denser baked goods. Many people combine white and whole wheat flour but, if you want to make something 100% whole wheat, consider using vital wheat gluten (concentrated gluten flour). One tablespoon of vital wheat gluten for every 2-3 cups of flour should do you good. (The Kitchn)
** Potato flakes, honey, milk and butter work to give whole wheat baked goods a softer texture. Find ways to incorporate them into your recipe. (The Kitchn)
** Whole wheat flour needs longer to fully absorb the liquid. Allow the dough to rest at least 10 minutes after the flour has been incorporated/before kneading. (Simple Bites)
** Wheat dough requires more liquid. If you’re substituting wheat for white flour, add an additional 1/4 cup of liquid for every cup of liquid that the original recipe calls for. (Simple Bites)
** Consider using the “sponge-dough” method where you stir in half of the flour that your recipe calls for into the yeast. Allow the mixture to sit, covered, for anywhere from an hour to overnight. Add the remaining flour when you resume, as per the recipe directions. (King Arthur Flour)
Honey Wheat Buttermilk Rolls
(barely) adapted from Simple Bites
makes 12 dinner rolls
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
3 Tbsp warm water
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk, room temperature
1 large egg
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for brushing rolls
2 Tbsp honey
olive oil, for baking sheet
cornmeal, for baking sheet
fleur de sel, optional, for sprinkling rolls
1. In a small bowl, combine yeast and warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes, until the yeast begins to foam.
2. In the meantime, combine whole wheat flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Make a well in the center.
3. Whisk yeast mixture with a fork until dissolved. Add buttermilk and stir in egg. Pour into the well.
4. With the mixer on low, combine flour and liquid until just combined. Turn off mixer and allow to sit for 10 minutes for the wheat to absorb the liquid.
5. Scrape down the sides of the mixer. With the mixer on low, add butter, one tablespoon at a time, including the honey with the first tablespoon. Continue to mix until all of the butter is absorbed.
6. Knead dough on low for 5 minutes, scraping as needed. Dough will come together into a smooth, elastic mass. It will be sticky, but do not add more flour.
7. Grease a medium bowl with olive oil and place bread dough in the bottom. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
8. Generously grease a baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal.
9. Turn dough onto a oiled counter and divide into ten or twelve pieces. Shape dough into round balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for one hour.
10. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush the top of each roll with melted butter and sprinkle with fleur de sel.
11. Bake for 22 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm.
To get the original recipe, which flavors these rolls with rosemary instead of honey and elegantly bakes each in a pretty little jar, visit Simple Bites.