Friday, January 18, 2013

Half Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (Sourdough)


A delicious, soft, and sour sandwich loaf with the goodness of whole wheat.

*Submitted to YeastSpotting

I like to have sandwich bread on hand but I don't like to buy the usual kind you find in the stores.  Store bought sandwich bread is too soft and mushy and flavorless to my tastes.  It also has preservatives (which I have never used to make bread) and I think it's creepy to have bread for weeks before it starts to mold.  Mostly, I just enjoy making and baking my own bread.  There is something about the smell and taste of freshly baked bread that just makes me feel good and I like to think it is better for me than store bought.

My main struggle with sandwich bread is getting it so that it is soft (soft enough to make a good peanut butter and jelly with) and doesn't crumb too much.  What I have found (at least in my non-professional opinion) is that in order to achieve this  you need to keep the dough pretty soft and moist.  Do not add too much flour while kneading you want the dough to be soft and moist but not wet and sticky.  It is hard to explain because you know it is right by the feel.  I find that when kneading by hand I tend to add too much flour, to keep the dough from sticking to my hand, but since I started using a mixer it is easier to knead without adding too much flour.  It is still possible to do it by hand you just have to be aware of how much extra flour you are using (it is okay for it to stick slightly to your hand.  Maybe just dust your hands lightly with flour instead of sprinkling flour over the dough).

*modified from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads 'transitional whole wheat bread'

Night before (barm)

3 oz sourdough starter
7 oz whole wheat flour
6 oz kefir or milk

Next day

7 oz bread flour
1 tsp salt (.45oz)
2 oz honey
.5 oz vegetable oil
3-5 oz water

The night before you want to make your bread you need to make the barm.  This is just feeding the sourdough to build it to the amount you need for the recipe.  Take out  3 oz of the sourdough starter add 7 oz of whole wheat flour and 6 oz of kefir or milk. (I make the barm with the whole wheat flour because I think that the over night sit tenderizes it and moistens it this makes up for the soaker that many whole wheat recipes call for.  I also use kefir because I like the extra sour flavor it adds.)  Stir until all of the flour is hydrated then cover and let sit out at room temperature over night.

The next morning, the barm should be bubbly and airy. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add barm and rest of ingredients starting with only 3 oz of the water.  Stir on low speed with the paddle attachment until all of the flour is hydrated and forms a ball.  You may need to dribble in some of the extra water until this is achieved (remember it is better to start too wet than not wet enough, adding flour during kneading is easier than water) .
Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 5-6 minutes adding more flour (white or wheat) as necessary.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but just slightly stick on the bottom.  It should feel soft and elastic and be tacky not sticky.  Transfer dough to a large, oiled bowl rolling to coat the dough with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and sit in  a warm place  to rise for 4 hours. (I sit my dough on my counter top under a small under-cabinet light that gets a little warm.  This is the  perfect temperature in my home.)
 When the dough has risen to double its size, roll into a sandwich loaf and place in a creased 8 by 4 inch loaf pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in warm spot for 2 hours until cresting above the lip of the pan.
Bake in 350F oven for 20 minutes, then turn 180 degrees and bake 20 minutes more.  If the top gets too dark cover with aluminum foil (I had to do this after the first 20 minutes).  Remove from pan and let cool completely (or at least 1 hour) before slicing.

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