Sunday afternoon it became clear, the bread would not make it much further. I reached into the freezer and pulled out four frozen loaves of whole wheat bread dough. I let the dough defrost in the fridge until Tuesday afternoon. (This may have been a bit long but Tuesday was a truly hectic day and time just got away from me.) My daughter greased the loaf pans while I kneaded and shaped the bread. Once in the loaf pans I let it rise for about four hours and then baked it as I normally would.
I know some of the veteran bread bakers must be thinking, four hours and holes the size of swiss cheese. Actually, the texture was very nice and even. The reason for the exceptionally long rising time is the bread was made with whole wheat bread flour and no gluten was added to assist in rising. Without the long rising time you get bread that doubles as a doorstop.
I have no real gripe with gluten. I even make the occasional gluten roast. The main reason I stopped adding it to my bread recipes is its sold in tiny bags and I was constantly running out. At the same time, it wasn't something I used enough of to merit buying a 50 pound bag from our food cooperative. It just didn't seem cost effective.
The more I read about bread making, the more I discovered that there are only a few hard and fast rules. A lot can be left up to the individual bread makers' discretion. If you're wondering where the white bread flour in my bread recipes went, it just got gradually eliminated. I would sooner plaster my walls with white bread flour than feed it to my family. (It is the ONLY aspect of today's low carb craze that I agree with.)
So relax, let the kids help knead the bread (play dough with a purpose?) and let it take its time rising. The end result is worth it.