I have been making our own sandwich bread for a couple of years now. I usually make between 4-6 loaves a week in the winter, and maybe up to 8 in the summer. I guess you could say we eat a lot of sandwiches! My husband takes two on the boat 6 days a week in the summer. So bread gets used quite quickly around here. I generally make sourdough bread because it’s really easy, fast and yields the best sandwich making bread (i.e not crumbly). I’ve made it so often that I don’t even refer to the recipe at all anymore. But, on occasion, I will make a different type to mix it up a little.
This bread is one I will make every couple of weeks because it’s fun and different. I mean really, how cool looking is that braid on top? It’s very impressive looking for something that is reasonably simple to do. It’s flair I’m willing to talk about. (Office Space anyone?) Anyway, this bread is moist, delicious, whole wheat (!), and a great vessel for any sandwich you can imagine. The braid on top is optional if you aren’t into that sort of thing. Double the batch and freeze the extra loaf if you want! I do that frequently, and it’s just as easy as making one.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
- 2 Tablespoons (1 oz.) orange juice
- 1 cup (8 oz.) lukewarm water
- 4 Tablespoons (2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 6 pieces
- 3 cups (12 oz.) whole wheat flour
- 3 Tablespoons (1 1/4 oz.) granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (1 1/4 oz.) potato flour
- 1/4 cup (1 oz.) nonfat dry milk
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant (rapid rise) yeast
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together. Knead the dough (by hand or with an electric mixer) until a soft, smooth dough is formed, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot and let the dough rise until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
- Lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Gently press the dough down and place on a lightly floured work surface. To make a loaf with a braided top, divide the dough into two portions, one portion being about the a 1/3 the size of the other. Roll the larger portion of dough into a tight loaf, pinching the seams closed and tucking the ends under. Press into the prepared pan, seam side down.
- Divide the remaining portion of dough into three equal parts. Shape each portion into a rope about 11 inches long. Pinch the three ropes together at the top and braid, pinching the ends together at the bottom. Place the braided portion of dough on top of the loaf in the pan and gently press down on top.
- Cover with a towel and let rise until the dough has risen about 1 1/2 inches above the top of the loaf pan, about 1 1/2-2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake for 15 minutes, then check the bread. If it is over browning, then tent loosely with foil and bake 25 more minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 190ºF. Transfer to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes, then turn out of the loaf pan and continue to cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.