Soft Whole Wheat Bread
Soft Whole Wheat Bread is a must-have recipe of awesome sandwiches and toast stacks.
Delayed gratification, I can’t discuss it enough.
A lesson I must learn and re-learn throughout my life, is both wretched and beautiful. To be patient and diligent. To put off little desires now, in order to obtain the grand-prize down the line. The ability to restrain yourself from doing what you want to do now, so you can be who you want to be… Later.
This is the lesson of healthy weight-loss, of educational achievement, or focused parenting.
Making fresh bread is certainly a study of this kind of patience.
The preconceived notion that it’s difficult and labor intensive to make bread , are just not true. Making bread isn’t hard, and it doesn’t really take a lot of prep-work.
It just takes time, patience, and a good electric mixer.
You need time and patience for your dough to sponge, to rise twice, and to bake. But the reward is truly delicious!
So, what makes a good sandwich bread?
I like mine a little sweet, a little salty, moist, and easy to cut with a serrated knife.
I also want my bread to be healthy. This means whole-grain in my humble opinion.
The trick to making heavy whole-grain flour seem light, is to let the yeast foam (or sponge) with a little flour, then let in rise two more times.
Once in the mixing bowl and once in the loaf pans. This provides and greatest height and biggest pores. (Big pores are a good thing in bread-making.)
After much experimentation, I’ve come up with a Soft Whole Wheat Bread recipe I make two different ways. Sometimes, I make whole-grain wheat bread and sometimes I use half wheat flour and half spelt flour.
Wheat flour produces a bendable bread with a higher dome-top due to its gluten levels. It is also slightly darker in color.
Spelt is in the wheat family, but has a nuttier and sweeter flavor. It also contains more protein than wheat, and the protein in spelt is easier to digest. So when I mix the two flours, the bread has a nuttier flavor and is higher in protein and fiber.
But… The top is flatter and the bread is slightly brittle because there is less gluten to create the flexible consistency. This is really a preference matter.
You may have to make this Soft Whole Wheat Bread recipe both ways before you know what you like best.
These loaves are the spelt variety. Notice the flat top.
Besides the education in patience, the benefits of making your own bread include: quality control, the ability to manipulate the flavor, and cost. I can buy all organic ingredients and make this bread for half of what I would pay for organic bread at the bakery.
I like to make Soft Whole Wheat Bread on a day I plan to stick around the house. That way, while I’m waiting on the bread to rise, I can go about my business, and I don’t even mind the wait.
Soft and Supple Whole-Grain Bread
- Place the first five ingredients, plus 2 cups of flour, in a mixing bowl. Using a bread hook, mix for 10-15 seconds, then add the yeast. It’s okay that the water is hot because the other ingredients will cool it before the yeast goes in! Mix again for 10-15 seconds, then let the mixture rest and “sponge” for 10 minutes.
- Turn the mixer on low and add 5 more cups of flour and the wheat germ. “Knead” with the bread hook until the dough has come together and pulls away from the sides a little, about 5 minutes. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and lay it over the mixing bowl. Let the dough rise for one hour. The dough should have doubled in size at this point. Turn the mixer on just long enough to knock it down close to its original size.
- Grease and flour two 9-inch loaf pans. Dump the dough out onto a floured work surface. Flour a knife and cut the dough in half. Roll each piece of dough into a log the length of the loaf pans. Place each roll in its pan. Spray another piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray. Cover both loaves loosely so they have room to expand. Let the dough rise for another 1 1/2 hours.
- When you come back the dough should have doubled in size again, and come up higher than the lip of the pan. Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Gently remove the plastic wrap. I like to sprinkle a little extra wheat germ or whole oats on top for visual appeal.
- Place the loaves in the oven for 35-37 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently dump out of the loaf pans. Cool completely before wrapping. This bread is great for sandwiches and is easy to freeze. Enjoy!