When I was in high school my mom found a bread machine at a thrift store and started baking bread for our family on a weekly basis. You can almost always find a bread machine at a thrift store because people buy them with dreams of making homemade bread, and then they barely ever use it. Not my mom though, she stuck with it. Not surprising though because besides the fact that my family usually always takes the do-it-yourself route, fresh homemade bread is irresistibly delicious and costs less than a dollar to make!
Once my mom started making bread and I saw how easy (if not time consuming) it was, I got sucked in and had to start experimenting with making my own. After she bought the Cheese Board cookbook I once spent one very ambitious day trying to make country bread, baguettes, and cheese rolls. I was exhausted, but very happy at the end of the day admiring my gluten-full creations. We kept a sourdough starter going for a few years, but after my mom absentmindedly tossed it down the sink while doing dishes we never really got around to starting a new one.
These days I mostly like to make simple breads. No sourdough starter, no planning three days in advance. If it’s not a batch of Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread, it’s rosemary focaccia or this honey whole wheat sandwich loaf. This bread is really good – sturdy, but still soft with a beautiful bronzed crust and more flavor than any packaged loaf from the grocery store. It’s as perfect as toast with butter for breakfast as it is for sandwiches for lunch. Even better is that since it’s ⅔ whole wheat you can feel good about eating it. If you want to make it 100% whole wheat, that’s fine too, just be aware that it will be a denser loaf. Also, if you’re a procrastinator, or if you want to make this over multiple days there’s a special treat for you! Putting the dough in the fridge in between steps slows the rising process and develops more flavor in the finished product! Sometimes being busy or life getting in the way can actually pay off!
Before you scroll down to the ingredients I have to warn you – they’re a bit odd. I wanted a loaf that would have a gloriously tall crown over the pan and the only way to do that was to scale up my starting measurements by 25%. You’ve been warned and I’m telling you it’s worth it for that tall loaf.
- 1 ¼ c. lukewarm water
- 1 T. + ¼ t. instant yeast
- ¼ c. + 1 T. vegetable oil
- ¼ c. + 1 T. honey
- 3 c. + 2 T. whole wheat flour
- 1 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
- ¼ c + 1 T. nonfat dried milk
- 1 ½ t. kosher salt
- Add the water to the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should start to get foamy. If not, you need to replace your yeast!
- Add the rest on the ingredients to the bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon to form a rough dough. Using the dough hook, knead the dough for 7-9 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed in the beginning. If by 5 minutes of kneading the dough is still very sticky add extra of either type of flour 1 T at a time.
- Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and scrape dough into this bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Lightly spray a work surface with nonstick spray and plop dough out of bowl. Gently pat into a rectangle shape, then roll into a log. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray and add the dough, seam side down. Cover with oiled saran wrap and allow to rise a second time for an hour or until the dough is about ½-1” above the edge of the pan.
- Near the end of the second rise, preheat your oven to 350° F. Bake bread for 30-40 minutes. (If you want to get precise about it, a thermometer inserted into the middle of the bread should read 190° F). Allow to cool completely before cutting.
- Feel free to play with the ratio of whole wheat to all-purpose flour, keeping in mind that the more whole wheat there is the denser the loaf will be and the more all-purpose, the lighter the loaf.