Woohoo summer! Summer means hiking, enjoying the beautiful PNW and the sunshine! I’m loving the hiking around here and I’ve gotten to explore more of the North Cascades recently, which are gorgeous and offer different views from the I-90 corridor. I also got to head down to Rainier last weekend, where the wildflowers are in full bloom, and the mountain is out! I’ve gotten into the habit of packing lunch on these hikes, to enjoy at our various hiking destinations, and so I made some whole wheat bread for sandwiches. I adapted this recipe of the Kitchn, and added some molasses for flavor, since I have the majority of a bottle lying around. It turned out wonderfully, with a fairly dense interior and a hearty flavor, and I’ve been enjoying my mountaintop sandwiches made with this bread.
A few tips: I made this with active dry yeast, then again with instant, and the instant yeast yielded a lighter, fluffier crumb. Additionally, I have the fan running often in my house right now due to the heat, so I was afraid that it would dry out the bread during the rises. So I tried removing the top rack from my oven, preheating the oven for 2-3 minutes, turning it off, then placing the dough inside with the door cracked open for the first rise, and it really helped the volume of the bread. You can probably play with the flavorings and amount of whole wheat flour, or try adding some flax seed or other grains, but I’d definitely do it just a little bit at a time to see how the recipe responds. In any case, enjoy this bread!
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
adapted from the Kitchn
Makes 2 8×4 loaves
1 1/4 cups warm water (115-125˚F, check your yeast package)
1 packet (about 2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast or active dry yeast (I had slightly better results with instant)
1 cup nonfat milk
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp molasses (I only had blackstrap, but you can use any variety)
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 3/4-3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 3/4-3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tbsp salt
Empty the yeast packet into the bowl of a stand mixer and pour the water over it. Let stand for about 5 minutes until foaming. Stir in the milk, honey, and oil.
Add the salt and the 2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour and use a dough hook to combine. Add 2 3/4 cups of the whole wheat flour and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Let stand for 20 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid.
Once the dough has rested, knead it for 8-9 minutes with the dough hook attachment. If you do not have a stand mixer, knead by hand.
If the dough is too sticky add a couple tablespoons of all-purpose flour, alternating with a couple tablespoons of whole wheat flour, until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl or the counter. The dough is ready when it is smooth, slightly tacky, springs back when poked, and forms a ball without sagging.
Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a ball. Lightly oil the bowl, then place the dough in the bowl. Cover it with a dish towel or plastic wrap, then set the bowl in a warm spot until almost doubled, about 1-1.5 hours. If your kitchen is a little cool, a trick I use is to preheat the oven for a few minutes, then place the dough in a covered bowl inside and leave the oven door propped open slightly. This gives a nice warm environment for the dough to rise.
Once the first rise is finished, sprinkle the counter with some flour and turn out the dough. Divide it in half and form each half into a loose ball. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Grease 2 8×4 loaf pans. Shape each ball into a loaf. Gently flatten each round into a rough rectangle using the heels of your hands, then fold the rectangle in thirds, folding the bottom third up, then the top third down on top of the bottom third. Pinch closed, then pinch the ends closed. Repeat a second time, flattening the loaf into a rectangle, folding into thirds, then pinching in and sealing the ends. Pull the top of the loaf taut, and place seam-side down into the loaf pans. For a more detailed tutorial on shaping the loaf, see here.
Allow the loaves to rise in a warm place until they start to puff over the loaf pan, about 30-40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Once the loaves have risen, slash each loaf vertically down the middle with a serrated knife. Place the loaves in the oven, the immediately reduce the temperature to 375˚F. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the oven and remove the loaves from the pans. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!