Sunday, December 13, 2009

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

A goal I'm setting in my life is to have more everyday homemade breads available for enjoying around the house and for lunches at work. I get a lot of enjoyment out of making all sorts of things from scratch, as I get to see and be in charge of the ingredients and process that go into the end product (no hidden secrets going into my body like preservatives and unnecessary additives). There's a special sense of pride and self-worth that comes out of a fresh baked loaf that looks good and tastes good. Sure, it's more work to keep the bread box filled, but as I enjoy making bread, I can chalk up the invested time to entertainment. Not only that, I list filling the house with the aroma of fresh baked bread as well as the extra heat in winter as added benefits. All that's left for costs are the costs of the ingredients, which absolutely beats the cost of buying bread that's not even fresh at the grocery store.

The only trick in my past bread making attempts is that it doesn't last long! Fortunately it's never due to mold - simply that it gets eaten so fast. I rarely make it beyond midweek (my normal bread making day is Sunday).

Today, I'm kicking this adventure off with some Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. It will be great for morning toast as well as work lunches this week. It's nothing too fancy or rustic, but flexible and functional. Normally, I'd go with one of Peter Reinhart's recipes, since he is a master of bringing the most flavor out of the ingredients. Those recipes usually require 2 days, and since I didn't prepare anything earlier this weekend, I'm looking for a 1 day recipe. I opted to base a bread on the recipe from the back of my King Arthur's Whole Wheat Bread Flour bag. I have a slightly larger bread loaf pan than is on the recipe, so I increased the ingredients listed by 25% to match the volume capacity of my pan.

Classic 100% (well close) Whole Wheat Bread from King Arthur flour bag recipe:

2 1/3 tsp Instant Yeast
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
3 1/2 cup KA Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup dried milk
1 1/4 tsp salt

Out of the recipe on the bag, I only had 1 cup left of the King Aurthur's Whole Wheat Flour. I used 1/2 cup of K.A. Unbleached Bread Flour (to use up what I had), and the rest of the roughly 4 1/8 cups total flour was Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour from the bulk section of a coop. Other modifications I made were using Pomegranate Molasses, but only 1/8 rather than 1/4 cup - it's all I had, and too much of the stuff comes on a little strong in the flavor department for sandwich bread anyway. I also used 1/4 cup of plain Silk soy milk within the volume of water used and in place of the 1/4 dried milk. It would be interesting to use a greater percentage of soy milk in place of water in a future batch.

After Kneading:

After ferment and shaping:
Fresh out of the oven:

Tasting Notes:

The Instructions called for about 40 minutes at 350°F, tenting the loaf with aluminum foil 20 minutes into it. I  opted to bake with a fairly standard homemade rustic baking method of a pan of hot water under the loaf.  I also created a steam effect for the first minute and 30 seconds by spraying the walls of the hot oven with a spray bottle of water.  I wound up extending the bake, because my first temperature test didn't register up to 190°F, and the outside didn't look properly caramelized. To get things rolling, I increased the temp to 400°F. 

Quite moist interior, but not ungelatinized.  Pieces pull from each other without any serious doughiness. I was lightly concerned that it was underdone, but I tested and confirmed the center at 190+°F with a thermometer before I finished baking.  The crust was almost flakey, not the soft kind of crust like a "store bought" loaf would be.  Tasted fine, with a burst of caramelized and toasted wheat (think "communion wafer") flavor, but I would back off on the temperature increase next time.  I'm sure that a soaker would have increased the bread flavor, but the aroma and flavor of the bread did provide plenty of nutty breadiness.  It will make a fine loaf for the week, I only wish there were two. Although the pomegranate molasses addition was only 1/8 cup, it still made an appearance with a very subtle fruity cherry aroma and flavor.

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