Light Wheat Bread

I apologize for the lengthy break. I was dealing with some health issues (mainly, just emotionally gearing up for my appointments with my doctors) and then began working on Christmas projects. I’ve gotten a ton of things done this year and even managed to send out Holiday cards. Yay me!

Now that I’m (mostly) done with gift-making, sending, and wrapping, I’m hoping to post a bit more about what I’ve been doing. But for now, I’ll tide you over with one of my favorite bread recipes – Light Wheat Bread. It’s a 40% whole wheat bread, but I’m really hoping to eventually make it 100% whole wheat, maybe even with some bran worked in there for extra fiber.

My recipe comes by way of one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, and she gets her recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, one of Peter Reinhard’s books… Which I actually have somewhere. She bakes hers for upwards of 45 minutes to an hour, but mine is consistently done at 35 minutes, so it pays to use an instant-read thermometer here.

It’s also very, very similar (almost exactly so) to my favorite white sandwich bread from King Arthur Flour, Walter Sands’ Favorite Bread. It has all the same ingredients, though the wheat bread has less honey, which is ok with me. I never did like those sweeter honey wheat breads that most seem to prefer. By the way, if you generally prefer white bread, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. It’s light, fluffy, Wonderbread-like bread.

So without further ado…

~ Makes one 9″x5″ loaf, can be doubled (if you use a mixer)
~ Instructions are for a bread machine for mixing, finishing by hand and baking in the oven. But, here is a link to the original recipe if you want to use a stand mixer or mix by hand.
~ I very, very strongly advise you to get yourself a kitchen scale. It makes baking and, specifically, bread making MUCH more precise. That’s a good thing when using a bread machine because you know the recipe will work every time. I never have to check the dough for this recipe.

2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz.) whole-wheat flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz.) granulated sugar or honey (I use honey)
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz.) salt
3 tablespoons (1 oz.) powdered milk (I use Nido, a whole milk powder from Nestle)
1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz.) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) water, at room temperature

1. Place ingredients in bread machine pan according to machine’s instructions. Usually, it’s liquids first, then salt and other dry ingredients with flour coming last. Make a divot in the flour and add your yeast. You just want to ensure the yeast doesn’t touch the salt or water until the machine begins mixing.

2. Place the pan into your machine and set it for the “dough” cycle.

3. Once the cycle is complete (1.5 hours on my machine), remove the risen dough from the pan and dump onto a counter sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled. Do NOT flour the counter! Pat the dough into a rectangle about 6-7″ wide and 8-10″ long. Roll up dough tightly starting with a short side. Pinch the seams of the dough closed. You can choose to pinch side seams closed or not. It won’t really affect baking too much, but you may get a spiral pattern on the sides if you don’t. If so, use the sides of your hands to karate-chop the side seams closed, then tuck under. Place bread seam side down in a greased/sprayed 9″x5″ bread pan. Spray top lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set bread in a warm place to rise until doubled, anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour, depending on how warm your kitchen is.

4. When you see the dough just cresting the pan, heat your oven to 350. It should have a good 15-20 minutes to fully heat up. Let dough continue rising until it’s an inch above the pan. Remove plastic wrap and place in center of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until thermometer reads 190. Remove bread from oven and turn out of pan onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least an hour.

5. Once cool, slice with a bread knife and enjoy either plain, with butter, toasted, on sandwiches, etc. this is a great all-around bread. It would also be great for dinner rolls, but that’s another post.