Using a pre-ferment.
Do you want a recipe for a light whole wheat sandwich bread. Something that will put to shame anything you could get in the store. Look no further! This recipe is perfect for any aspiring baker and requires just a few ingredients. The key to this recipe is a pre-ferment, which will give your bread a subtle and complex flavor. Take it up a notch by making it with 20% whole wheat flour for a heartier loaf with a wonderful nutty flavor. Try this recipe and you’ll have a delicious whole wheat sandwich bread that will put any store-bought loaf to shame.
By: Henry Hunter
◦ 1 3/4 cups (235 grams) unbleached bread flour
◦ 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast
◦ 1 1/4 teaspoons (5 grams) salt
◦ 2/3 cup (150 grams) cold filtered water
◦ 1/2 cup (203 grams) whole wheat flour
◦ 2 teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
◦ 3 3/4 teaspoons (15 grams) kosher salt
◦ 3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated white sugar
◦ 5 tablespoons (75 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
◦ 2 cups (480 grams) cold filtered water
◦ 1/2 cup (40 grams) dried milk powder
◦ 5 1/2 cups (512 grams) unbleached bread flour
In a medium sized bowl stir the flour with the yeast and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the water.
With a dough whisk or wooden spoon, work the flour into the liquid, until all the flour has been moistened.
Then lightly oil a medium sized bowl. Place the dough into the bowl and flip it over so the top of the dough has a light coating of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit (ferment) at room temperature for one hour.
*Note: See my pro-tip at the end of this recipe to see how I store my pre-ferment.
Then place in the refrigerator overnight (about 12 hours).
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread:
In a large bowl stir the flours with the yeast, salt, sugar, and dried milk powder.
Remove the Pre-ferment from the refrigerator and cut it into small chunks. Pour the cold water into the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the dough hook.
Then add the Pre-ferment and the flour mixture. Knead the dough on 1st speed for five minutes. Increase your mixer speed to 2nd speed and continue to knead the dough for about 4-6 minutes or until the dough cleans the bowl and is smooth, elastic, and not very sticky.
Add the butter a little at a time, and continue to knead the dough, on 2nd speed, for another three to five minutes or until the dough cleans the bowl and is smooth and elastic.
Place your dough in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled. Turn the dough once so the top of the dough has a light coating of oil (this prevents a crust from forming on the top of the dough). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (about 75 degree F) (24 degree C) until almost doubled (approximately 1 hour).
Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. You want at the top of the dough to now be on the bottom.
Lightly flour the top of your dough and with the palms of your hands flatten the dough slightly to break any large air bubbles.
Then divide the dough into two equal sized pieces (about 900 grams each). When you divide the dough use a pastry scraper or knife and cut, don’t pull or stretch, the dough.
Then, working with one piece of dough at a time, pre-shape your dough into a round. Do this by taking the edges of the dough and fold them into the center and gently seal.
Then flip your dough over so the smooth side is facing up. With the palms of your hands rotate the ball of dough on your surface to create surface tension and to seal the edges of the dough completely.
Place the rounds on a lightly floured baking sheet or board and cover with plastic wrap. Let the rounds of dough sit at room temperature for about 25-30 minutes. (This is to relax the dough and you will notice that the dough will rise a little.)
You will need two – 9 x 5 x 4 inch (23 x 12.5 x 10 cm) loaf pans. Lightly grease the pans with a flavorless oil or spray with a non stick vegetable spray.
Next, place the rounds of dough, upside down, onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough.
Form the dough into a rectangle. Take the short edge of the rectangle and fold the dough lengthwise into thirds, like you’re folding a letter. Make sure the edges of the dough are straight and even.
Next, we need to shape the dough into a log shape. Take the top edge of the dough and fold it into the center and seal. Again, take the top edge of the dough and fold it over to the edge of the dough and seal. Turn the dough so the seal is now underneath.
Then with the palms of your hands, gently roll the dough back and forth until it’s the length of your loaf pan. Place the logs of dough into your pans, seam side down. (The dough should fill the pan about two thirds full.)
Cover each pan with plastic wrap that has been lightly floured and let proof at room temperature for 1 – 2 hours or until almost doubled in size.
The dough will rise above the rim of your loaf pan. (If you lightly press into the dough, your finger will leave a slight indentation.) (If the dough starts to mushroom over the sides of the pan bake immediately.)
Meanwhile preheat your oven to 350 degree F (180 degree C). If you want your bread to have a slight crust, place a cast iron frying pan on the floor of your oven. We will be placing a few ice cubes in the frying pan to create steam.
When your bread is ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and place in the preheated oven.
Place 3-4 ice cubes into your frying pan for a more crusty loaf. Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes or until your bread is golden brown.
If you tap the bread it will sound hollow. About halfway through baking turn your pans front to back to promote even baking.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes.
Then remove the breads from their pans, placing the bread top side up on a wire rack. If a soft crust is desired, brush the tops of the breads with melted butter.
Let cool completely before serving. This bread can be stored in an airtight bag for about three days or it can be frozen for a couple of months.
Makes 2 loaves of delicious Whole wheat Sandwich Bread.
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