Sunday, September 1, 2013
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
So, instead of continually updating my old bread recipe that I posted in 2010, I decided it was time for a complete rehaul. Over the years as I have gained much experience and learned the art of bread making, I have tweaked the recipe to fit our tastes and needs.
This bread is delicious! I have been making it (or a version of it) for my family for close to 4 years, I think. We don't eat store bought anymore, usually unless it's an artisan loaf or something. Bread making is a wonderful investment of your time because it brings such great reward! Sure, it takes more time in the beginning to learn the art, but once you've got it down, you can practically do it with your eyes closed.
I love being able to make bread for my family and to know that it is fresh and healthy. Eating a hot slice barely out of the oven never gets old either.
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
makes 2 loaves
5 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour, or whole wheat bread flour
3/4 Tbsp. instant yeast
3 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten
3/4 Tbsp. salt
½ cup potato flakes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey
2 cups warm tap water
In a mixing bowl, fitted with a dough hook, measure in the flour, yeast, gluten, salt, and potato flakes. Pulse to evenly distribute, for a second or two. Add oil, honey and water and mix for about 30 seconds. If the dough is too dry, add more water, about a tablespoon at a time, and if it is too wet, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. The dough at this point should be wet enough to leave a little residue on the sides of the bowl. (It is better to err on the side of too wet than to dry. A wet dough is still manageable, although messy, but a dry dough will give you a brick when cooked.) Mix for 10 minutes. Do not add any more water or flour at this point, it will not incorporate well.
When it's done mixing, the dough will look smooth and elastic. If it seems a little sticky, it will still be ok, most likely. If you have a Kitchen Aid-type bowl, remove dough hook and ball of dough. If you have a Bosch-type bowl, you’ll need a separate large mixing bowl. Spray the inside of either bowl and put the dough back in the dough to rise. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. (Time will vary greatly here, anywhere from 30 -60 minutes or so, so just watch over the dough.)
After the first rise, gently deflate the dough (spray your hands with cooking spray) and separate into 2 dough balls. For a perfect looking loaf, roll each dough ball out (on a counter coated with cooking spray not flour) the width of your loaf pan, and about 12 inches long, getting all the air bubbles out. Then, tightly roll the dough up, pinch each side closed and tuck them under a bit and lay it in a greased loaf pan. (Don't worry about the dough touching all the sides yet, as it raises, it will fill in.) Repeat with remaining dough ball. Cover bread pans with a light kitchen towel. Let dough raise again until about doubled; it should rise just above the top of the pan. Near the end of the second raise, preheat your oven to 350 F.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let loaves cool for 10 minutes, then take the bread out of the pans and completely cool on a wire rack. (Do not let the bread cool completely in the pans, it will become a sticky mess and ruin the bread.)
If you are new to bread-making, here are some tips from King Arthur Flour:
-If you're kneading bread by hand, it's tempting to keep adding flour till the dough is no longer sticky. Resist the temptation! The more flour you add while you're kneading, the heavier and drier your final loaf will be.
-The amount of liquid you use to make the "perfect" dough will vary with the seasons. Flour is like a sponge; it absorbs water during the humid days of summer, and dries out during the winter. Your goal should be making the dough as it's described (e.g., cohesive, soft but not sticky), rather than sticking religiously to the amount of liquid.
-When making yeast bread, let the dough rise to the point the recipe says it should, e.g., "Let the dough rise till it's doubled in bulk." Rising times are only a guide; there are so many variables in yeast baking (how you kneaded the dough; what kind of yeast you used) that it's impossible to say that bread dough will ALWAYS double in bulk in a specific amount of time.