Yield: 1 8½-inch loaf

Ingredients

2 tbsp. (1 oz.) orange juice
1 cup (8 oz.) lukewarm water
4 tbsp. (2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 6 pieces
3 cups (12 oz.) whole wheat flour**
3 tbsp. (1¼ oz.) sugar
Heaping ½ cup (1¼ oz.) dried potato flakes or 3 tbsp. (1¼ oz.) potato flour
¼ cup (1 oz.) nonfat dry milk
1¼ tsp. salt
2½ tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast

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    Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together.  Knead the dough (by hand or with an electric mixer) until a soft, smooth dough is formed.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.  Let the dough rise until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

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    Lightly grease an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan.  Gently deflate the dough on a lightly floured work surface and pat into an 8-inch square.  Roll up tightly into a log and pinch the seam shut.*  Transfer the dough to the loaf pan seam side down, press down gently so the dough reaches all the edges, and cover with a kitchen towel.  Let rise until the dough has risen about 1½ inches above the top of the loaf pan, about 1½-2 hours.

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    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake for 15 minutes, then tent loosely with foil and bake 25 more minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 190˚ F.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes, then turn out of the loaf pan and continue to cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.

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    *To make a loaf with a braided top, divide the dough into two portions, about two thirds and one third (I use a kitchen scale to make sure I divide the dough correctly.)


    Shape the larger portion of dough into a tight loaf and press into the pan, seam side down.  Divide the remaining portion of dough into three equal parts.  Shape each portion into a rope about 11 inches long.

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    Pinch the three ropes together and braid.

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    Place the braided portion of dough on top of the loaf in the pan and press down on top.

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    Cover with a towel and let rise until the dough has risen about 1½ inches above the top of the loaf pan, about 1½-2 hours.  Bake as directed above.

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    **Whole grain baking tip:  As soon as whole wheat flour is milled, the oil inside begins to oxidize and over time, will turn rancid giving the flour a bitter taste.  To avoid this bitter flavor, store whole wheat flour in the freezer (immediately, even before you open the bag).  Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes before using in a recipe.