I have this idea that I need to break out of the bread and pie rut, but we need bread and pie, so that’s what I’m baking today. Here’s my go-to whole wheat sandwich bread.
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
1 cup water (cold or room temperature)
1 large egg
¼ oz salt
1½ oz (2 T) honey or agave nectar
¾ oz (2 T) oil (any kind)
¾ oz (~⅓ cup) powdered milk
1¼ oz (~⅓ cup) Bob’s Red Mill flax seed meal
½ oz (⅓ cup) Bob’s Red Mill wheat bran
1½ oz Bob’s Red Mill wheat germ
1½ oz (~⅓ cup) Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten
8 oz (2 c by the sift-and-sweep method) King Arthur whole wheat flour
2 t instant yeast
1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl; mix the wet ingredients in another bowl. Salt and sugar count as wet ingredients.
2. Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients.
3. Turn the dough onto your work surface and use wet hands to knead it until it’s smooth and elastic. It’s very wet and sticky at the beginning; don’t add more flour, just keep working the dough. A bowl scraper helps a lot at the beginning. Once the gluten is developed, the dough should still be a little damp and tacky; if it’s too dry, it won’t rise very well.
4. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a towel, and leave it in a draft-free place to rise. The oven makes a good draft-free proof box.
5. When the dough has doubled in volume (about 45 minutes to an hour), punch it down, form it into a loaf, and put it in a 9×5 loaf pan.
6. Let it rise again until it’s about 1 inch above the top of the pan.
7. Bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes.
8. Let it sit in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and put it on a rack to cool for a couple of hours or overnight.
To use a bread machine, add the ingredients in the order given and set the machine for dough. Then pick up with step 5.
To use a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl. Fit the mixer with the dough hook, add the wet ingredients, and mix on the second speed for a couple of minutes. Scrape down the bowl and knead the dough on the third speed for about 7 minutes. Then pick up with step 4.
• Ingredients: Different brands of flour absorb moisture differently, which affects the finished product, so the important thing is to pick a brand and stick to it. I like Bob’s Red Mill, and I use Bob’s products except for wheat flour. I use King Arthur’s wheat flour. These are good products made by good companies. If you prefer another brand, watch your dough and adjust the amounts of water and flour if you need to.
• Flour: If you don’t have a scale, measure the flour by spooning it into the dry-measure cup and then leveling the flour with a knife. The bakers at King Arthur want you to use the spoon to sprinkle the flour into the measuring cup; this gives about 4¼ oz of all-purpose flour or 4 oz of whole wheat flour per cup, which is what I’m looking for. The spoon-and-sweep method gives about 4.4 ounces of all-purpose flour per cup and probably 4¼ oz of whole wheat, a little more than I’m looking for in this recipe, but not disastrously so.
• Yeast: Instant yeast, also called bread machine yeast, doesn’t have to be proofed. If you use regular dry yeast, add it to the water with a little sugar and flour to proof it, get the dry ingredients together, then add the rest of the wet ingredients to the proofed yeast. If you use instant yeast, add it to the dry ingredients.
• Salt: Different kinds of salt have different weights per volume. It’s best to weigh the salt. However, you can use 1 tsp of Morton’s table salt, 1½ tsp of Morton’s kosher salt, or 2 tsp of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal). Other kinds (e.g., sea salt) you have to weigh for yourself. The problem with table salt is the iodine, which some bakers think interferes with the growth of the yeast. You add salt to bread partly for flavor, partly to temper the activity of the yeast, and partly to help the bread brown.
• Forming the loaf: I spray cooking spray on one hand and then rub my hands together before I handle the dough.