One day last week, I decided I wanted a sandwich, because I like eating sandwiches sometimes. But I had no bread in the house with which to make it, so I went to the market… to buy flour. I’d run out of whole wheat flour, y’see, and I don’t like to use all-white for my sandwiches. I returned home and got things going. During the rise, I ate some peanut butter out of the jar. That evening, a friend of my roommate’s came over and cooked dinner, so by the time the bread was done, I’d been fed. But I did have a very yummy sandwich the next day, anyway. (The final irony was that after I finished baking, I realized that I did, in fact, already have bread in the freezer.)
This was actually my first time baking bread in a loaf pan, and the lesson learned was to grease more thoroughly next time (or acquire a non-stick or silicone pan). I couldn’t find a recipe that sounded just right, so I mixed some up, based largely on the pain ordinaire (fancy-speak for basic bread) in Ultimate Bread. I think I slightly overbaked, but the long process of getting it out of the dang pan may have been a factor there, too. Although I called this whole wheat, like most whole wheat breads, there is still a fair bit of white flour. After a few days, I did what I always do with my sandwich bread and froze the remainder in slices. It toasts up beautifully from the freezer.
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
- 2 tsp dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
- 2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
1. Sprinkle the yeast into 1/2 cup of the water in a small bowl and leave for 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the center, and pour in the dissolved yeast.
2. Use a wooden spoon to draw enough of the flour into the dissolved yeast to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let the paste “sponge” for 20 minutes until frothy. (I like to sponge and rise in the oven with the light on, which maintains a sufficiently warm and draft-free environment.)
3. Pour about half the remaining water into the well and mix the flour in from the sides. Continue to mix, using as much of the water as needed to form a firm, moist dough.
4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface (my flexible cutting board works wonderfully) and knead until smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form into a round.
5. Put the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours. Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Shape the dough into a long loaf by flattening then folding in thirds, rolling to slightly longer than the pan, tuck the ends under and place into the pan. A well-oiled pan, let me add, not merely lightly oiled. Cover with a dish towel and proof until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
7. Optionally, dissolve a little cornstarch in water, heat for a few minutes, and when cool, brush the top of the loaf. If you want a split top, you can also make a slash lengthwise with a razor or sharp knife. Bake in a preheated oven at 400Â° for 45 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and loaf sounds hollow when thumped underneath.