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Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread

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I developed this one winter and I absolutely love it. It’s a hearty, tasty, all-natural 100% whole wheat sandwich bread recipe.

In the winter of 2009 I wanted to make an all-natural, homemade whole wheat bread for my little boy’s sandwiches. The recipe I was looking for would use only whole wheat — no white flour at all. The idea: cheap, easy, natural, healthful, nutritious, sliceable, freezable.

But I couldn’t find a recipe that was just right for me.

Many whole-wheat bread recipes I found include dry milk powder, which is a highly processed industrial ingredient, and can contain dangerous oxidized cholesterol. At the same time, they had you using water. That didn’t make any sense to me. Why use dry milk powder + water? Why not just use liquid milk?

Some use orange juice, on the theory that OJ counteracts the supposed bitterness of an all-whole-wheat loaf. But I haven’t found any bitterness in this loaf.

I went to work on find a way to give my loaf that extra spring and structure that we’ve become accustomed to in commercial sandwich breads. I’m sure there is a distinctive mix of dough conditioners and who knows what else to create those loaves no one can make at home. However, I did find that adding some vital wheat gluten goes a long way to making this all-whole-wheat bread less crumbly and more sandwich-friendly than the typical homemade loaf.

I tweaked until I achieved a whole-wheat sandwich bread recipe that is hearty, almost sweet in flavor, and sturdy enough to serve as bookends to any sandwich.

I slice it and freeze it in a twist-tie bag inside a zip-top bag, and take out only what I’m about to use. Always ready for school lunch PBJs — no need to thaw before assembling. Great for hot buttered toast and grilled cheese sandwiches!

Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf, Knead or No-Knead
The recipe

1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (use instant or non-instant)
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
1/4 c vital wheat gluten (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Method

Warm milk to 105° F or so. Melt butter, but don’t make it too hot (you can leave an unmelted soft lump and it will mix in.

Whisk together everything but the flour and gluten.

Wait for yeast to froth.

Gradually stir in flour. Mix in with hands.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise overnight. Or, knead 10 minutes until smooth, and let rise, covered the same way, until doubled in volume or about 2 hours.

Punch down. Shape. Place in buttered 9″ loaf pan. Let rise until the highest point is a little higher than the pan.

Bake at 350° F for about 45 minutes.  For the first 10 minutes, bake uncovered. For the last 35 minutes, cover with a loose foil tent.

After cooling, you can slice, place in a bag with a twist tie, freeze.

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