This recipe makes a loaf of delicious, mostly whole wheat bread that tastes outstanding as toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and more!
I have a secret. Sometimes when I go for a run on the weekend, I say I’m going to run for five miles, but instead I run three and then sneak back into the house while my husband is upstairs with the kids so I can get a jump start on my weekend kitchen projects. I know my husband is onto me, but he hasn’t ratted me out to the kids yet.
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Running is my “me” time, because it really is one of the only things I truly do by myself (unless I feel like working extra-hard and torture myself by running uphill with the stroller). A lot of the other things I do--baking, crafting, cleaning--I usually do with a side of kid help. But sometimes, it really is more efficient to get some work done on my own, which means I’m better off pretending I’m not home!
This weekend I got this fabulous loaf of bread started on its first rise--mixed, kneaded, and the kitchen cleaned-up-- in under fifteen minutes before anyone realized I’d snuck back into the house after my run! Of course, this recipe is easy enough to throw together with kids underfoot, but every once in a while, it’s nice to be able to focus your full attention on something.
Regardless of whether you’re baking solo or with lots of extra hands, this gorgeous bread is easy, delicious, and makes for fabulous toast and sandwiches. Just look at how nicely it slices!
Here’s how to make it...
225 grams* of whole wheat flour (1 ¾ cups plus 2 tbs)
225 grams* of white bread flour (1 ¾ cups plus 2 tbs). I use King Arthur brand bread flour.
160 grams* of warm water (⅔ cup)
160 grams* of warm whole milk (⅔ cup)
2 tsp dry active yeast yeast (1 packet is 2 ¼ tsp...this will also work).
20 grams/ 2 tbs olive oil
40 grams/ 2 tbs honey
6 grams (1 tsp) salt
*I highly recommend baking bread by weight instead of volume for the best results...at least for the flour and water. An inexpensive food scale will make a world of difference.
*You can absolutely incorporate more whole wheat flour into this recipe, or use entirely whole wheat flour. I recommend using white whole wheat, and you may need increase the water content slightly. 100% whole wheat bread will be more dense than this half-and-half version.
1. Stir together your warm milk, warm water, olive oil, and honey, then add the yeast. Let the mixture sit together while the yeast activates. You’ll know it’s activated when it becomes foamy on top.
2. Measure the bread flour and whole wheat flour into a large mixing bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid bowl). Slowly stir in the liquid mixture with a wooden spoon until the dough becomes too stiff for the speed, and then knead it the rest of the way together with your hands. Your dough should be fairly smooth and tacky to the touch but it should not stick to your fingers. Add a bit more flour or water a tiny bit at a time if the dough is too dry or too wet.
3. This is where I get lazy. I attach the dough hook to my kitchen aid at medium speed and let it work it’s magic while I put things away and clean up the kitchen. Then, after the kitchen aid has done most of the work, I knead by hand for a couple of minutes, place the dough back in the bowl, and then cover it with a damp towel to rise.
4. After the dough has doubled in size (approximately 90 minutes depending on the temperature in your kitchen), remove the dough from the bowl, deflate it, and knead by hand for several minutes, until the dough is elastic and can form a translucent “window pane” when stretched thin. Once again, I like to use my Kitchen Aid dough hook to do most of the work for me and then only knead by hand at the very end.
Tip: Rather than dusting your work surface with flour, which can add more flour than you want to your dough and cause it to become dryer and more dense than you want (this is especially the case when working with doughs that incorporate whole wheat flour). Instead, use a small amount of water or a bit of oil to dampen your fingertips. Believe it or not, this will keep your dough from sticking to your fingers and keep your dough hydrated. This is a technique often used in making sourdough breads, but I find it useful for making all breads!
5. Once you’re finished kneading your dough, shape it into a loaf and plop it into a greased bread pan and place in a safe place to rise. I often place my loaf pan in the oven. When your dough starts to rise over the top of the pan, you’re ready to bake.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top of the loaf turns a nice golden brown color. I use a convection oven, so this can cause the baking time to vary from conventional oven baking times.
Tip: I leave my loaf pan in the oven while the oven preheats. My dough gets a nice extra little rise in the warm oven, and I don’t have to worry about my dough deflating or falling while I transfer it from the counter to the oven. You do need to watch the loaf a bit more at the end of the bake the first time you make it, just to see how it affects the baking time. If you don’t wish to do this, your bread will turn out just fine if you pop it into the oven after it preheats.
7. When your bread is finished baking, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before removing it from the pan and slicing.
This bread is excellent for sandwiches (especially grilled cheese!) and for toasting. My whole family loves it toasted with our homemade chocolate hazelnut spread.
Looking for a true 100% whole wheat bread recipe? Check out this post on 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread!
Enjoy and happy baking!