Thursday, March 8, 2012

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I'm trying to bake bread 50ish times in 2012 and I'm posting lots of pictures and recipes so you can all see how it's going. I hope it inspires you to do some baking of your own. If you have a favorite bread recipe, please leave me a link in the comments and I'll try to make it sometime!

This week, I baked whole wheat sandwich bread by mostly following a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens (sadly I can't find their recipe online at all, so they either got rid of it or changed the name or something I guess!)  It turned out really well-a bit crispier of a crust than store-bought bread, but otherwise fairly similar in texture. My husband and I both liked it toasted for his sandwich at lunch, and it was also yummy warm with honey and butter. Besides enjoying this bread's flavor and texture, we also liked knowing that there weren't any preservatives, artificial ingredients, or HFCS in this bread, unlike most of the wheat breads available for a reasonable price at our grocery store!

What you need:
  • 2-3 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 packet or 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
What you do:
  • First, mix 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with the yeast
  • Next, melt the butter in a microwae safe bowl or measuring cup in the microwave for 30 seconds
  • Add the water and brown sugar to the butter and microwave for 30 more seconds
  • Pour the liquid mixture into the flour/yeast mix and stir
  • Add the whole wheat flour and mix it up
  • Add as much of the remaining all-purpose flour as you can
  • Knead for about 5 minutes (should be smooth and elastic)
  • Put a little olive oil in the bowl, then put dough back in and swish around to lightly spread oil around bowl and dough surfaces to prevent sticking 
  • Allow to rise until double, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours
  • Punch down and divide into two portions
  • Place in two 8in loaf pans and allow to rise until doubled again-about 30-45 min
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes

My notes:
  • I am going to try filling a lagasna pan with water to create steam in the oven and see if that results in a softer crust next time.
  • The original recipe calls for melting the butter, water, and brown sugar in a saucepan, so if you are anti-microwave or just have the time, feel free to try that instead. With a toddler underfoot and beautiful weather outside, I was going for speed!
  • I used glass loaf pans and they worked out fine, but could have been a contributor to the crusty loaves. Metal loaf pans would probably result in slightly softer crusts.
  • One thing I recently discovered that is a huge help is "food and bread storage bags." Basically they are plastic baggies that hold a gallon of food. A loaf and a half (all the was left by the time I actually tried to bag it up) of this bread easily fit in the bag, which tied with a twist tie. Anyway, it is definitely keeping the bread fresh, which is awesome, and it was way way cheaper than normal gallon-sized plastic baggies. I definitely recommend getting some of these if you plan on baking your own bread (and they are definitely reusable for more than one loaf of bread) but aren't quite ready yet to buy a bread box, or haven't found the right one for you yet.

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