100% Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread
An enjoyable way to ensure that you are getting benefits of whole grain in your bread is to bake it yourself—at a fraction of the cost of bakery bread. Made with just a few basic ingredients, this dough develops a full wheaty flavor during its long slow rise. The trick to making 100% whole-wheat bread with an appealing moist, airy texture is to start by making a “sponge” (a loose mixture of flour, yeast and water) the day before baking. In addition, soaking a portion of the remaining whole-wheat flour in water overnight brings out its nutty flavor and helps build structure in the loaf, saving you kneading time.
1. The day before baking, make sponge: Place 1 cup water in large mixing bowl (use the bowl of your stand-up mixer if you have one). Sprinkle in yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups flour, whisking until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight, or until puffed and bubbly.
2. Stir together 1 1/4 cups flour and remaining 1/2 cup water in medium bowl until blended. Cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture stand overnight as well.
3. The following day, break flour-water mixture (from Step 2) into golf ball-size pieces and add to sponge mixture (from Step 1); mix with dough hook of stand-up mixer or manually with a wooden spoon. Add molasses and salt. Gradually beat in just enough additional flour until dough starts to pull away from sides of bowl. Knead with the dough hook or by hand on a lightly floured surface about 5 minutes, adding just enough additional flour to prevent sticking, or until smooth and springy.
4. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl; turn to coat top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until doubled. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
5. Coat 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Press dough into a rectangle. Fold short ends towards the center, then bring long sides together and pinch seam closed. Roll the log back and forth to make a smooth log shape. Place loaf, seam-side down, in prepared loaf pan. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, sprayed-side down, over loaf. Let rise at room temperature about 1 hour, or until almost doubled.
6. Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before baking, place metal baking pan on bottom shelf of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
7. When you are ready to bake, brush top of loaf with a little water and sprinkle with rolled oats. Using a serrated knife, make a slash, about 1/4-inch deep, down center of loaf (alternatively, make 3 diagonal slashes). Pour 1 cup water into baking pan in oven. (Steam in the oven helps the bread to rise). Place loaf pan on center shelf of oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove pan of water. Continue baking until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 15 to 25 minutes longer. Immediately remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Yield: 1 loaf, 14 (1/2-inch-thick) slices
NUTRITION FACTS (per slice): Calories: 110.Total fat: 0.5 grams. Saturated fat: 0 grams. Cholesterol: 0 milligrams. Sodium: 250 milligrams. Carbohydrates: 23 grams: Fiber: 3 grams. Protein: 4 grams.
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, divided
- 2 tbsp molasses or honey
- 2 tsp cornmeal for coating loaf pan
- 1 tbsp rolled oats for sprinkling over loaf
- 1 1/2 tsp salt