I’m a control freak. Let me just put that out there…
No, this isn’t going to be a post about the many reasons that I should probably see a shrink and the fact that I have some serious OCD tendencies… We can talk about that later.
This post is all about making homemade bread, which stems directly from the fact that I am a control freak. In fact, I can be a bit of a food snob at times. I admit it. Like we all do, I have my guilty pleasures, but I am generally very conscious about the ingredients that I cook and bake with. You won’t find a giant tub of high fructose corn syrup hanging out in my pantry, so why would I buy products that are loaded with it? Even many of the whole wheat and “heart healthy” breads at the store are loaded with preservatives and good old HFCS. How else could they last on the grocery store shelves for a week or two?
What this isn’t about, though, is buying the fanciest and most expensive gourmet ingredients. Repeat after me:
Quality doesn’t have to be expensive.
I know that it may seem a bit pricey to get a good quality flours (I prefer King Arthur, just saying…), but think about how many loaves of bread you can make with one bag of flour! Yeast isn’t expensive, either. If you clip coupons, you will frequently find coupons for yeast packets/jars. Or, if you can find a store that sells bulk foods, you can buy a giant bag of yeast (for only a few dollars) and just stash it in your freezer. While I haven’t figured out the exact cost to make a loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread, I’m willing to bet that it’s considerably cheaper than if you were to buy a loaf of bread at a bakery. And, let’s not even talk about the long-term “cost” of buying the cheaper, lower quality breads at the store.
Ok, so now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk about this whole wheat sandwich bread. I started with a recipe from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook (my new favorite cookbook). I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand, though, so I made a few substitutions and used what I had. That’s the beauty of bread-baking.
When it comes to baking bread, I still consider myself a beginner. So, I am beyond-pleased with how this bread turned out. The bread was moist with a beautiful, golden crust. Using white whole wheat flour kept both the flavor and texture of the bread light, which is what I like in a sandwich bread. The process of actually baking the bread isn’t difficult, either. I find it satisfying (and stress relieving) to knead the bread by hand, but you can you can use a mixer, if you prefer.
Have I convinced you to stop buying bread at the grocery store yet? Yup, I thought so…
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook)
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or one packet)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup bread flour (King Arthur)
- 3+ cups white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the water and the orange juice. Sprinkle with the yeast and granulated sugar, and stir to dissolve. Add the yogurt, canola oil, salt, and cup of bread flour. Use a wooden spoon to mix, beating vigorously to start to develop the gluten in the bread flour. Gradually, add the whole wheat flour, mixing with the wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball. At that point, turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface, and knead until you have a smooth dough (about 6-8 minutes). The amount of whole wheat flour needed will vary on the humidity and other factors. Add just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands as you knead.
Return the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover (with plastic wrap or a damp towel), and let rise until the dough has doubled (about an hour or two). It has risen sufficiently when the imprint of your fingers remains and the dough doesn’t spring back up.
Punch down the dough and form it into the shape of a loaf. If you prefer, you can make a braid-topped loaf (like the one in my pictures) by reserving 1/3 of the dough, dividing it into three long strands, and creating a braid. Place the braid on top of the loaf, tucking in the ends. Place the shaped loaf into a greased loaf pan, cover, and let rise for an additional hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread uncovered for 15 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil (to prevent over-browning on the top) and bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes. The internal temperature of the bread should be 190°F when the bread is done.
Let the bread rest in the pan for a minute or two before transferring it to a wire rack to cool. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!