22 April 2012

Sandwich Bread

My family goes through alot of bread. I bake four loaves a week, and the kids are only preschoolers. I think that means I'll be baking 20 -30 a week when they become teenagers. Maybe I'll open a bakery. I must admit, it's a source of pride for me. If Daddy doesn't bake it, they refuse to eat it. Tickles me. So I keep baking. Once I started, I just couldn't stop, and baking has become a truly relaxing and enjoyable hobby. I get a kick out of figuring out how to create something my family will enjoy. For sandwich bread, I credit Jo-Lynne Shane at Musings of a Housewife for the basic recipe. Thankfully, I don't have to bake four loaves at a time, yet, so I cut it down and adapted it to our tastes a bit. So here is my bread recipe:

Sandwich Bread

I use my KitchenAid stand mixer, and Jo-Lynn has a great series of step by step photos to follow on her blog.

In the mixer bowl, mix
  • 3 cups of whole wheat flour (I grind mine fresh and prefer hard white winter wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of active dry yeast
Mix the dry ingredients for about 15 seconds.

In a microwaveable container, melt 1/4 cup of butter, then add 2 1/4 cups of water and 1/3 cup of honey and bring the mixture to about 110°F.

While stirring the dry mix with the dough hook, pour in the wet in a steady stream and mix for a few seconds, scraping the sides as needed.

Next, I add 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (my family likes it for texture) and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. I stir it until it's combines, then add about 2 cups of all purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition, until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl - generally about two minutes.

At this point, the dough is almost ready. Knead it on speed two for about two more minutes, adding whole wheat flour a tablespoon or so at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch but not dry.

Next, dump the dough onto a plate and butter the inside of the mixing bowl. Put the dough back in the bowl and spin it to make sure it's all buttered. My oven goes as low as 170, so I let it preheat to that before I start my dough and then turn it off. By the time the dough is ready, so is the oven. I cover the dough with a cloth and leave it to rise in the oven til it's about doubled in size. I live in the Metroplex, and the varying humidity makes timing dough rises impossible. Go by sight. For me, it's generally one to two hours.

Once it's double, dump it onto a lightly floured surface (or my trusty new pastry mat, which I absolutely love!) and punch it down. Divide it into two lumps and shape each into a tight roll. Place each loaf into a buttered bread pan and put them bake into their rising spot, covered, until they reach the point at which you want to bake them. This is a personal preference, and for me, takes about another hour. I like them to be about 2 inches over the top of the pan.

Bake them in a preheated oven at 350°F for 30 minutes and let them cool on wire racks.

The hard part is keeping them whole until they cool. In fact, I was going to take a picture of the loaf I made yesterday, and this was all that's left. It goes quick!

As soon as he hears the mixer start up, the Furball hustles to his place under my feet where he gives me puppy dog eyes until I let him have the heel of the most recent loaf. That dog is addicted to my baking. Of course, I'm the one who makes him his own bone shaped biscuits, so I guess I can't say it's entirely his fault. He's so sad here lately, since Sweetheart put him on a diet and told me I can't give him bread anymore.

Of course, he still has the boy, who shares no matter what.