Friday, May 29, 2009

Wheat Sandwich Bread

Wheat bread cooling
After several attempts with the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes method, I realized two things:
1. My kitchen is generally too cold for yeast dough to rise properly.
2. This recipe just doesn’t work for me.

So I moved on. We were always able to eat the bread, but it wasn’t replacing the expensive Brownberry bread we used for sandwiches. (Even on sale I couldn’t do better than $2 per loaf.) Luckily I did not buy the cookbook.

A lot of searching on Google, following a link trail around various blogs, led me to the Breadtopia blog, which included tutorials on Cook’s Illustrated’s Almost No-Knead Bread. This recipe calls for about 1/2 cup of beer. I have used both Leinenkugel and Budweiser. Darker beer definitely gives a better flavor to the finished loaf.

I made the sandwich loaf variation, using my 10x5 pan because it’s the only one I have. I also add about ½ cup of instant oats for texture and flavor. Given my previous problems with rising, I let the dough rise for about 18 hours at room temperature, then kneaded it, shaped it in the pan, oiled and slashed the surface, then allowed it to rise again in the pan.

In the multiple times I’ve made this recipe, I’ve tried two methods for improving the second rise. I’ve placed the pan on top of an oven set to 200 degrees for an hour or two and I’ve allowed the bread to rise all day. It may just be my oven, but I get no additional lift in the baking process, so this second rise is crucial.

The finished product is far more successful than the Artisan Bread. It’s not as tall as a store-bought sandwich loaf, but I can control exactly what goes into it, it takes very little hands-on time to make, and it’s cheaper than the Brownberry.

Wheat bread sliced

This bread stores well. It has a nice, soft crust suitable for sandwiches. I slice it as needed and store in a zip top bag in the refrigerator. It stays soft for about ten days.

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