3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons agave syrup or maple syrup
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the whole wheat flour, salt, and yeast until well incorporated.
Add the water and agave or maple syrup to the bowl containing the dry ingredients, and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours. Alternatively, place this in the refrigerator for about 12 to 24 hours. Remember that we want our dough to double in size regardless of whether it spends a full 24 hours in the refrigerator or rises at room temperature. Feel free to let it rise in the refrigerator for some of the time and outside of the refrigerator the rest of the time.
Vigorously mix the dough again with the wooden spoon for 30 seconds, and allow it to rise once more, covered, at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Stir the dough one last time for 30 seconds to degas it. The dough can now be 'proofed' by gently forming it into a lightly oiled loaf pan and allowed to sit covered with a plastic bag until it reaches about 80% to 90% of it's intended size, which should be about 40 minutes. The proofing stage is where the dough takes most of it's shape. It's important to leave room under the plastic bag so the dough can rise sufficiently.
Remove the plastic bag so the dough can rest for about 10 minutes. Due to the high water content in the dough it may begin to spill over the sides of the loaf pan. In this case, take the edges of the dough and stretch it over the loaf to the other side, working your way around the perimeter of the loaf pan as you go. Stretching the dough over itself will also help keep the loaf in its proper shape as it bakes. Lightly dust the top of the loaf with wheat germ, wheat bran or oat bran.
During baking, the dough will rise another 10% to 20% of it's intended size in the process known as 'oven spring'. Bake until the internal temperature of the dough registers 180-190°F, which should be about 45 minutes. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees in the oven halfway through the baking duration for even baking.
Remove the bread from the loaf pan after about 30 minutes, and allow to cool on a wire rack until it's cooled to room temperature.
This bread is best stored covered in a cool dark place or pre-sliced and stored in a plastic freezer bag in the freezer.