Saturday, September 6, 2008

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch pretty much every day (which I believe I've mentioned before). I prefer the kind of peanut butter with nothing but peanuts on the ingredient list. You know, the stuff that you have to stir the oil back into it when you first open it, which I admit is annoying, but well worth it to me. I also prefer strawberry jelly, but will settle for basically anything except goopy grape, as long as it tastes like fruit rather than sugar. My peanut butter and jelly is pretty much the anti-stereotypical soggy grape jelly white bread version that I saw so many of my peers eating on a daily basis all throughout elementary school. Of course the key to this sandwich, as with any sandwich, is the bread.

I want a bread that is substantial enough to maintain its integrity when peanut butter is spread upon it and won't be a soggy mess if I make it at 5:30 am and eat it at lunch time. I want it to be 100% whole wheat, but I don't want it to be dense and dry like so many whole wheat breads. Lastly, I want to make it myself because I like to know what's going into my food, it's cheaper than buying bread and tastes better, and I just like baking bread.

So after trying a few different recipes, most of which were very good, I've settled on the one on the back of the King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour bag. It's relatively easy to make, stays nice and fresh all week long, freezes well, and meets all of my other requirements listed above. For the past 5 or so months I've been making 2 loaves of this bread a week and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Oh, and it makes the house smell absolutely incredible while it bakes.

And of course, I just could not resist doing this:


I always double this recipe to make sure I won't run out of bread midweek and have to bake more. Since it freezes so well, I don't have to worry about one loaf going bad. Start by mixing flour, yeast, salt, and non-fat dry milk (which apparently adds vitamins and nutrients, imparts flavor, tenderizes the bread, helps color the crust, AND increases the keeping quality of the bread - wow).

Add honey, vegetable oil (I use canola), and water. Stir until all the flour is hydrated. If you don't feel like stirring, you can have a helper do it for you.

Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth, slightly tacky ball of dough. Or, if you're lazy like me, knead with the dough hook of your mixer for about 5 minutes. You might need to add additional flour at this point if the dough is sticking to the sides/bottom of the bowl. Add just enough so that the flour clears the sides and bottom.

Place the dough into a container that has been lightly sprayed with oil.

Allow the dough to double, which takes about 1 hour.

Dump the dough out onto a cutting board and knead it lightly to degas it. Form the dough into a ball and divide it into two equal pieces.

Spray two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans lightly with spray oil. Take one of the dough balls and flatten it out into a rectangle.

Form the dough into a loaf by rolling it up, pushing down on the seam with the side of your hand as you go. Fold the ends under the roll, and pinch all the seams closed. The roll in this picture is actually kind of lopsided, it should look much more even.

Place the roll of dough into the pan and lightly press down (it will spring back a bit). Cover the dough with plastic wrap. I've actually been placing the pans in a large plastic bag lately instead of covering them with plastic wrap, and the results have been better for me. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Allow the dough to rise for approximately one hour, or until the dough crests about 1 inch above the top of the pan. Slash the loaves - I like to them with a long straight slash right down the middle. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, turn them, and bake another 20 minutes. When the loaves are done, remove them from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a rack. If you're not going to use them right away, wrap them well in plastic wrap and freeze them immediately. When you want to use a loaf, just take it out of the freezer a few hours before you want it.


100% Whole Wheat Bread (adapted from King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour bag)
About 3 hours - makes 2 loaves
  • 8 cups of King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup of non-fat dry milk
  • 5 teaspoons of instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 2/3 cups of room temperature water
  1. Mix the flour, dry milk, instant yeast, and salt in the work bowl of a standing mixer (or a regular mixing bowl)
  2. Add the oil, honey, and water and stir until all the flour is hydrated
  3. Knead with the dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes (or knead by hand for 10 minutes) until a smooth, slightly tacky ball forms. The dough should clear the sides and bottom of the bowl, add flour to achieve this if necessary.
  4. Place the dough in a bowl sprayed lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until doubled, approximately 1 hour
  5. Dump the dough onto a counter and gently knead a few times to degas
  6. Work the dough into a ball and divide it into 2 equal pieces
  7. Spray two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with spray oil
  8. Form each dough ball into a loaf and place into pans
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  10. Cover pans with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it crests 1 inch above the top of the pan, approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour
  11. Slash the loaves down the middle
  12. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes, turn the loaves, and bake another 20 minutes
  13. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack


jillian said...

Very interesting about the dried milk! I will have to give this a try. It looks great, and I haven't found a whole wheat recipe that I am happy with.

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence! I love that recipe for whole wheat sandwich bread, and also posted about it recently too. Jude just finished compiling the roundup for Bread Baking Day #13 - 100% Whole Grains, for more "substantial" bread ideas if you want to check it out. Thanks also for writing about why non-fat dry milk is used in the recipe. I've always wondered about that, although couldn't you substitute part of the water content with fresh milk as well?

Laura said...

Just what I was looking for!

The best natural peanut butter out there is made by Parkers Farms. It's in the fridged section of many grocery stores and even (I've heard) some WalMarts. It's natural, but it doesn't separate. It is also super duper creamy and the chunky style has WHOLE peanuts in it! Oh, it is divine. :)


sarah jane goodman said...

this looks great!! i was wondering, could i throw all the ingredients in my bread maker on the dough cycle and let it do the work? then just pull the dough out for a final rise and bake from there?

Darron said...

Thanks for the comments everybody!

toxobread - I'm by no means an expert, but I think you can sub out some water in favor of milk (although I think I read something somewhere about certain proteins in the milk possibly inhibiting the rise).

laura - Thanks for the PB suggestion!

Sarah - I have zero experience with bread machines, but I don't see why not.

EAT! said...

I always intend to make homemade bread, but it so how never gets done. I should really just set aside a day to do it. You bread looks perfect.

Rachelle @ "Mommy? I'm Hungry!" said...

Hi, I came across this recipe in Tastespotting while searching for wheat bread to bake. I have mine baking right now and will blog it very soon! I'll link this post too, if that's ok! :)