Yum Peaceful Cooking: Light Wheat Sandwich Bread

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Light Wheat Sandwich Bread

I'm not a big fan of the flavor of whole wheat. I know, I know...white flour is so bad for you. I can't help it. I've tried. I've especially put forth a strong effort these past 2 years as I baked with the HBin5 bread baking group. If you look along the right side of my blog, scrolling down to the "Labels" section, you will see HBin5 where I have linked all the bread posts I baked with the group (over 30 posts). Not all are whole wheat. But there's a whole heck of a lot of them. (BTW...HBin5 is short of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day).

But I still don't enjoy the taste of whole wheat bread. 

This does not mean that I didn't gain anything from this cozy little HBin5 adventure. In fact...I learned more than I can express in this one little post. I met fantastic people whom I will never forget. I gained an enormous amount of knowledge and 'yeast confidence'.  And I have grown to love baking bread. I've stepped way beyond my comfort zone and discovered that it's comfortable out there as well.

Somewhere along the line, it became a goal of mine to find a whole wheat sandwich bread that Sir Sportsalot would like. He's a Roman Meal kinda guy and it would make my day if I could trump the store bought stuff.

This recipe is probably as close as I've been able to come, so far. It's not an HBin5 recipe. It's not even a no-knead recipe. It's just a good recipe that I found over at SmittenKitchen
With minor alterations.

I do know one thing....without HBin5, I would not have attempted to make this loaf of bread.

The crust is firm without being "crusty" or chewy.  The crumb is soft and airy with just the right amount of firmness. Its not going to fall apart on you from the weight of the tiniest amounts of sandwich makings. It's substantial without being dense. It has that wheat-ie flavor but it's light enough (and gentlemanly enough) to step aside and allow the others to shine. You want to be able to taste the meat. You want to experience the full bodied flavor of your freshly sliced tomato straight out your garden. This bread knows its not the center of attention....but more of a supporting cast, and does it's job with grace.

Light Wheat Sandwich Bread
Printable Version

2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 TB sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 TB powdered milk
1 1/2 tsp yeast
2 tsp barley malt syrup
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 TB shortening

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, powdered milk and yeast. Dissolve the barley malt syrup in the water. Add the water mixture and the shortening to the flour mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined and the dough forms into a ball. (I started off using a spatula or spoon and ended up just using my hands).

If by chance after you've tried working it all together with your hands, you still cannot incorporate all of the flour in the bowl, add a little more water. (tsp at a time). You want the dough to be soft and supple but not a shaggy mess.

Sprinkle your counter with flour and turn the dough out. Knead away, adding a little flour if needed. Knead for at least 10 minutes (by hand). I kneaded for 15 minutes. The dough will be ready when you can gently stretch it without it tearing apart.

I learned something yesterday as I watched one of those cooking shows out there. It is very unlikely that you'd over knead your dough if kneading by hand. (If you're using a machine...then yes....it can happen. Make sure you obey the time frames specified in a recipe) So....knead away. Fold, push, pull, rotate....repeat. Or whatever way you find yourself kneading. Some say that all you have to do is fold and flatten, rotate. No muscle work involved at all. Your main goal, however you achieve it,  is to get the gluten working.

I wish I had known that a long time ago. It would've really alleviated a lot of my yeast based fears.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Put your dough into the bowl, rotating so that the surface gets coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. The dough should be doubled in size (which is difficult to gauge exactly. Don't stress. You'll notice it has gotten really big.)

Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a 6" x 10"rectangle by pressing it with your hand on the counter.

Starting at the short end, roll the dough up the length a little at a time. With each "roll" pinch the crease with your fingers to secure the dough in place and strengthen the tension. Once you get to the end, pinch the final seam closed (using your hand or the thumbs...you don't really want "pinch" marks on your bread).

Lightly oil an 8.5 x 4.5" bread pan. Place the dough into the pan. The ends of the loaf should reach ends of the pan. This will aid in an even rise.

Mist the top of the dough with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise, at room temperature for about 90 minutes. Could be shorter. Could be longer. You'll know it's ready when you poke the dough with your finger and it does not spring back at you very quickly (or at all).

Preheat your oven to 350' F. Make sure your rack is in the middle of the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate 180' and continue baking for another 20 - 30 minutes. If you have an instant read thermometer, the inside temperature should be about 190' F. The top and sides will be a nice golden brown.

Immediately remove the loaf from the pan and allow to cool on a rack for at least an hour (or more). This is VERY important. I know...it's hard. You can smell that warm bread and it's begging to be smothered in butter. But...


You have to wait. The dough is going to continue to do its thing for a bit. You don't want all the inside steam to escape. Just let it be. Let it settle. Allow the crumb to come into it's own. That's the only way you will achieve that light, airy crumb. Otherwise, it'll be a bit doughy and almost sticky. You'll know immediately you've done wrong. The bread will leave a smear mark along the knife. A tale-tale sign that the bread wasn't allowed to fully cool. So do yourself a favor. Just walk away.

I promise, it will be worth the wait. And then you can do anything you want. Slice, dice, rip, break....toast, butter, grilled cheese. It's all good.

I will have more HBin5 and ABin5 recipe posts in the future. (one coming up pretty soon in fact). It doesn't seem like it's been 2 yrs already but the HBin5 Bread Braid is officially done. I have a feeling that we'll all stay in touch and it will seem as if it's still in progress. I can't imagine not sharing my bread with the group...or reading what they have to share. I can't imagine the group not being there to support each other as we work through our bread issues and questions. Thank you all in the HBin5 Bread Braid group!! It's been a wonderful adventure. Sooooo.....whats next?

I want to take a minute to give a special thank you and hug to {{{{Michelle}}}} over at BigBlackDogs.net  You are an amazing woman. I will never make bread without thinking of you, your courage and your strength. This is not good-bye by any means...but a segue to the next stage.


  1. That looks amazing, Danielle. I will definitely be trying this recipe. Also, good to learn that I can't overknead if kneading by hand. I often use the machine to knead just because I'm unsure of my efforts. I think I'll start doing it all by hand now!

  2. Your bread looks wonderful Danielle! I do love whole wheat and love to try new recipes. Will be adding this one to my list. Thanks for your posts over the last 2 years- it has been fun to watch your confidence grow and, my, have you turned out some grand looking breads!!

  3. I don't know how it's possible but every time you post a photo of your homemade bread it looks better than the last! You have really become such a great baker, I just wish I could taste it!

  4. I think that loaf of bread looks as perfect as possible. The recipe sounds great, I need to get some of that malt stuff.

  5. Yeah, I'm "white bread" too but this light wheat looks close enough to white for me.

  6. Great looking bread. Keep posting. I think I will. I want to get back to some of the AB in 5 recipes we liked, and maybe do more with sourdough.

  7. Heavenly Danielle! Simply glorious!

    If it's the last thing I do, I will conquer my yeastaphobia fear before the end of this year!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing and this inspiring post!!!

  8. Hi Danielle,

    I loved your post. It's been quite an adventure with the group, and I want to keep doing the recipes.

    I didn't know that about kneading. It sounds like it's not the heavy pressure, but the movement of the gluten, that is important.

    Thanks so much. hope to get a chance to meet you!


  9. This bread looks amazing...Slathered in butter and jam, and I would think I died and went to heaven. Thanks for sharing.



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