¾tablespooninstant yeast, or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2tablespoonscanola or vegetable oil
¼cupvital wheat gluten, see note
3-4cups(426-568g)whole wheat flour, give or take a little (see note)
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl by hand, combine the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt, gluten, and 2 cups of the flour. If you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, let the yeast proof in the warm water and sugar for about 3-5 minutes until it is foamy and bubbly before adding the oil, salt, gluten and flour.
While mixing, gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Judge the dough by how it feels, not necessarily by the exact flour amount called for in the recipe (see a tutorial on working with yeast here). The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch.
Knead the dough in the stand mixer or by hand until it is very smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes in a stand mixer or 10-12 minutes by hand. As the dough is kneaded, it will continue to absorb some of the liquid and become less sticky so take care not to overflour at first as the texture will change as it kneads - and you can always add a bit of flour partway through if it seems overly sticky.
If kneading by hand, try using a bit of oil or cooking spray on the counter to help prevent stickiness instead of flour - that way the dough doesn't get overfloured. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled, 1-2 hours.
Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased countertop. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form the dough into round balls (a video tip on shaping the dough into rolls here).
Place the rolls on a lightly greased or silpat-lined baking sheet about an inch or two apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the plastic wrap gently hang over the sides of the pan to fully cover the rolls but not press them down. Let the rolls rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.
Flour Amount: as with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule. Because humidity, temperature, altitude and a multitude of other factors can impact how much flour you need in your yeast doughs, I always judge when to quit adding flour by the texture and look and feel of the dough rather than how much flour I’ve added compared to the recipe. This tutorial on yeast may help identify how a perfectly floured dough should be. Also, here's a video tutorial on how to shape the rolls.Vital Wheat Gluten: is basically wheat flour that has the wheat bran and starch removed - it's low in carbs and super pumped up with protein. When added to yeast breads, particularly whole wheat breads, it helps develop the natural gluten in the wheat flour and provides a light fluffiness sometimes hard to achieve with whole wheat bread. It is very fine in texture and light brownish/yellowish in color and is easily found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores near the flour (I get mine from an organic mill near where I live so you may check your local availability for a source like that).Whole Wheat: finally, if you are new to using whole wheat, here is a series on the different types of wheat and another on grinding wheat. I almost always use hard white wheat berries for grinding because I like the texture and lightness of hard white wheat vs. hard red wheat.