This is our family’s basic sandwich loaf. It is simple to make, and inexpensive to boot. Best of all, you can work it into your time schedule. Recipe makes 2 loafs, you could half it, but in my opinion if you are going through the effort you may as well make two. You can always freeze the second loaf.
Dump all ingredients into your mixer (use dough hook).
When it starts mixing, it will look like this. I recommend a 10 minute rest at this time to allow the whole wheat to absorb the liquid.
After a few minutes -approx 5- of mixing , it will start to come together and become smooth (in bakers speak, the gluten will develop). Please note you can make this recipe without a mixer. In fact I recommend you make your first few loafs by hand. It is important to learn how the dough should feel , which is only something that can be learned by trial and error. You knead dough by pushing it away with the heel of your hand, then folding over and starting again. (There are some youtube videos on kneading if you are a visual learner) Your ultimate goal is a dough that is smooth , not sticky or dry. If you knead your dough by hand, it will take a little longer, about 10 minutes. If your dough is dry, add some water 1 Tbsp. at a time, if it is too sticky, add flour 1 Tbsp. at a time. Here is how it should look:
At this point your dough needs to rise. I let it rise in a lightly greased mixing bowl, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap. It is important to cover the dough, or it will develop a skin that will not allow it to rise.
The time for rising depends on the temperature of your kitchen, generally 1.5 hours. In the winter it will take longer, in the summer it will take less. But generally I have found that there is no impact if I let it rise until I have time to get back to it. I have left it on the counter for half a day with no problem. It should double in size.
At this point, you need to punch down the dough. It can be very satisfying.
Next we need to shape the loafs. Split the dough into two. Below is a picture tutorial of how to do it. Fold in the sides slightly, then bring the top down, bottom up, pinch the seams and give it a gentle roll to smooth.
Place your loaves, seam side down, into two lightly greased loaf pans.
Now the loafs need to rise again. Cover again with a damp towel or plastic. This rise should take 1-2 hours. Unfortunately you do need to watch the loafs for this rise. If the bread overrises at this point, it will deflate in the oven. Allow your loaf to rise until it is about 1 inch above the edge of the pan.
Now we are ready to bake! Place your loaves into a preheated 350° oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the bread has reached a 190° internal temperature. Allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then take them out of the pan to finish cooling.
I apologize for this picture, it was getting late by the time the loafs were done. Now go enjoy a slice of warm bread with butter!
Tips and Substitutions:
- You can use sugar or sucanat in place of the honey.
- If you are new to whole wheat bread, you can use any ratio of white flour in this recipe, slowly adjust the recipe until you are eventually using all whole wheat.
- Remember if your kitchen is very cold you may need an ounce or two more water, if it is very warm, you may need an ounce or two less water.
- This bread freezes beautifully, I recommend slicing it first.
- Don’t throw away stale bread! Grind it in the food processor and store it in the freezer for homemade bread crumbs.