I begrudgingly sang this parodied Christmas classic in my car yesterday in futile attempts to (a) keep Owen from screeching at me for our ten-minute drive home and (b) to keep myself from falling into a deep and utter depression over the change in weather.
The bare trees. The gray skies. The dead grass. The icy sleet.
You thought Carpe´ Season was a celebration of all seasons? It is. And I know eventually I will come to embrace winter. But I always struggle with this gap in time between the sunny red-leaved days of early Autumn and the beginning of a snowy white winter. And frankly, these in-between days are dirge worthy.
Plus, it’s almost the end of the year…Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner, and new New Year’s resolutions will be in order when I’ve totally not completed this year’s.
Way back on the third day of January, I pledged to achieve breadupendance. And here it is, almost November, and I’ve really only made one attempt at finding the perfect loaf. So in an effort to distract myself from the piles of wet leaves and wintery gusts, I made my second attempt at a sandwich-worthy homemade whole wheat bread.
I read through all of the bread recipe recommendations that many of you made after my first attempt. And I decided to make Sarah’s Favorite Childhood Sandwich Bread recipe from Finding Joy in My Kitchen.
Back in January, I shared my criteria for the perfect sandwich bread; here’s how this recipe stacked up:
1. Low-Maintenance 5/5: This entire recipe can go from start to finish in about three hours, with only five minutes of actual kneading, and only about twenty minutes of hands-on time. Plus, it yields two good-sized loaves for the work of one!
2. Ingredient Humility 3.5/5: Whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, yeast, olive oil, honey, salt, water…seven ingredients counting water. Fantastic.
The reason I give this a 3.5 is the white whole wheat flour…I almost never have this on hand. I’ve been substituting this ingredient with all-purpose flour, which makes it more accessible but less nutritious…each time I’ve made this recipe, I have been putting in a 1/2 c. more of the whole wheat and a 1/2. less of the all-purpose and haven’t noticed much of a difference.
3. Sandwichability 4.5/5: I’ve used this bread for toast, gilled cheese, and normal sandwiches. It has not crumbled though I have flipped it, slathered it, and cut it in two.. It slices into thick and thin pieces with zero frustration…even after a few days when it’s a little dried out. The only thing we would change is that it’s not quite “tall” enough…though in the original recipe, she suggested adding a 1/4 c. of wheat gluten to the recipe, to help it make a better shape…something I have yet to try.
4. Grandma-Approved Taste 5/5: I’m not a big fan of really sweet honey whole-wheat breads, which is why I love this recipe. The olive oil and salt really balance the honey well, keeping it from being overly sweet. Again, I’d like to experiment with more whole wheat flour per loaf and see if I can up the nutty flavoring from the whole-wheat. But either way, this bread is delicious.
While I still want to try a few other recipes, just to be sure I’ve found the perfect loaf for us, this whole wheat bread recipe is the current front-runner. I’ve made it several times now and love that I’ve nearly memorized the recipe; that’s how simple it is. And experimenting with this recipe (and having such success!) has served to at least somewhat brighten my mood on these gloomy
Fall Winter Fallterdays.
(recipe barely adapted from Finding Joy In My Kitchen
(yields two loaves in 9"x5" pans)
This easy homemade whole wheat bread uses simple ingredients and can be made in about three hours total with about 20 minutes of hands-on time. This bread slices well and is sturdy enough for sandwiches, grilled cheese, or toast and is a delicious way to get more whole grains!
3 c. white wheat flour OR all-purpose flour*
4 c. whole wheat flour
3 tsp. salt
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten (optional)**
1/3 c. honey
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
2 3/4 c. warm water (I shoot for about 100-105*)
1/4 c. olive oil
*Read about the difference between white whole wheat flour and all-purpose here.
**Adding vital wheat gluten is not necessary but will give your bread a little more height and help to keep it from being too dense.
Begin by mixing the warm water and yeast together in a large bowl. Allow these ingredients to sit together for 2-3 minutes.
Then, gently stir in the honey, salt and olive oil.
Next, slowly add both types of flour while you stir. Mix until all the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to come off of the side of the bowl.
On a lightly floured surface, knead for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. You may need incorporate a little more flour to prevent the dough from being sticky.
Place dough in your large bowl. Grease plastic wrap (I use cooking spray and spread it on the plastic with a paper towel. Cover dough with the plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 70 minutes or until doubled. (I turn my oven to 230* and let my bowl sit on the warmest burner).
Punch the dough down and then shape in to loaves.
Place the loaves in lightly greased 9x5" loaf pans, and cover each with a greased piece of plastic wrap.
Allow them to rise again for 30 minutes - 1 hour. (This rise has taken me about 50 minutes each time I've made this).
Then, uncover and bake at 375* for 30-35 minutes until crust is lightly browned and bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
Bread keeps best in an airtight bag in the fridge. You can easily freeze the second loaf by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and putting it in an airtight freezer-safe ziploc bag.
BREADMAKER NOTE: Commenters have tried halving the recipe and making it in the breadmaker with great success!