When Justin and I first moved to New York City we had no money, I mean no money. What with the move and owing first and last month’s rent on top of a security deposit, we were hurting. So much so for the first year we didn’t eat that well. I ate nothing but boxes of cereal and he, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We both lost about 10 lbs that we still haven’t managed to find, ah city living. The first and only job I found was at a temp agency (that Psych/Pre Med degree really showing its worth) and everyday I brought a Tupperware container filled with cereal to eat for lunch. Those that noticed always thought it was so endearing that I loved cereal that much that it was all I ever wanted to eat. Sometimes it was hard not to break down and cry right there. But that’s a story for another day. We’re in better times. Back to why I’m doing this post. Justin ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every time he went to work and you would think the boy would get sick of them, but to this day he still loves himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Every time we’re at the store in the bread aisle I look at those sad looking loaves and think, “I could make something cheaper and more delicious.” But I never do. So this post is my promise to myself and my adventure in sandwich bread making.
I am a novice bread maker. Originally I was going to wait until I had gained a little bit more experience in this area before I made a post about it, but then I realized that’s not what this blog is about. It’s a personal reflection on my journey in the kitchen. So, I figured it would help me if I did in fact post my breads, starting with my initial creations, be they successes or failures. However, I made this decision after I had made my first one. It was delicious by the way. Today is my second loaf, which is the recipe you’ll see below.
I managed to take cell phone pictures of my first loaf, which is similar to the second loaf.
Why did I score a sandwich loaf? Because I had a razor and I felt cool doing it. Yes, I realize it was completely unnecessary.
I suck at following a recipe, like really suck. I can never really get myself to do it. I had every intention of following a recipe for my first sandwich loaf since I had never actually made one and had only ever made a couple of other breads before that. Oh, well.
This is the recipe used for the above loaf:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 all purpose flour
1/2 cups old fashion oats
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp milk powder
1 1/2 cups H2O
350° 40 minutes
And here is the recipe for my most recent loaf
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp applesauce
1 1/2 cup H20
350° 55 minutes
And people with a stick up their butt about always having to scale your ingredients or your recipe is going to suck, baking is a science, blah blah blah. It’s also…whatever. There are a million ways to make a single recipe so even if you’re off in your ingredients by a few ounces here and there the odds are in your favor that things are going to work out. You just need to be open to the interpretation of your final product. And be positive, recipes can sense negativity.
Proof your yeast. I heat up all my water and then pour 1/4 cup into a dish that has my yeast and sugar. Make sure you take the temperature of your water before you try and proof your yeast with it. A couple times you’ll get lucky without doing this and then the next 5 you won’t and it can be terribly frustrating. And then you feel like a dumb ass because you remember that yes you do have a thermometer in the drawer and even though it’s a candy thermometer it can also take the temperature of, wait for it…water!
This is how I proof my yeast and it works well for me. Add yeast and sugar to a bowl.
Add your water and stir gently. Nothing has happened yet, these are just chunks of yeast.
2 min: the yeast has begun munching on the sugar and releasing CO2. You should start smelling that “bread” smell.
3 min: yeast has made a creamy mixture and is activated. If I don’t see anymore activity after this point I add it now.
Add your flour to your mixer. You can absolutely make bread by hand. The first couple loaves I started with I did without a mixer because I wanted to see how the dough changed in my hands. I’m making this in the Kitchen Aid because my ultimate goal is to whip one of these up every week so I want to be able to do it fast.
AND I feel guilty that I don’t use this ridiculously large mixer my daddy bought me nearly enough. He dreams of me having my own restaurant one day, he’ll just have to live with a silly food blog.
Add your oats. A lot of recipes cook the oats before hand and then add the flour and everything else. I thought “Why?” and then didn’t do it. I figure it’s the logic of oats being coarse and interfering with gluten formation but then I was like, “it’s a whole wheat bread, we’ve already got that problem why not just add to it?” So, I did and if you saw the first picture, the bread forgave me for it.
Why did I add applesauce? Because I felt like it.
I added the honey not so much to make a honey oatmeal bread but to enhance the wheat flavor. It seemed to work out alright.
I read somewhere at some point you should add 1 tsp of salt per 20 oz of flour. Well since this is a new recipe I erred on the side of caution and only put 1 tsp per my 28 oz of “flour.” I’ll probably do 1 1/4 next time.
Add your yeast and water. Mix on lowest speed until everything is incorporated.
Once it starts removing itself from the edges increase the speed to 2-3 (listen to your machine, it will tell you if you’ve got it too high) and knead for 5-10 minutes.
I like to finish my dough by hand. This is what mine looked like after about 6 minutes in the mixer.
I kneaded for another 5 or so minutes after it coming out of the mixer. After reading so many articles on the internet about the ever dreaded ‘over-kneaded’ dough I got the impression that if you just looked at dough wrong the poor thing would over-knead itself. If anything I under-knead dough because of this fear that’s being perpetuated and I believe the case is probably true with a lot of home bakers.
I do the window-pane test. I don’t really understand the poke test, what if I poke it and it just barely springs back is it still ready? The window pane seems more obvious to me and look! No large oat chunks ripping my pane! I told you the bread would forgive you. Bread is like that.
I oil my dough instead of oiling my bowl. I don’t know, it seems to make more sense then oiling the bowl and then lightly oiling the top of your dough.
Put in your initial mixing bowl, or a new one if the idea of washing another dish makes you tingly inside. Cover with a towel and rest for 1 hour. This is 15 minutes in because I forgot to take a picture and I was like, “Oh shoot, I forgot to take a picture.”
Gently flatten the dough out into about an 8×10 rectangle. I use my knuckles.
Roll the rectangle, like you would wrapping paper making sure it’s taut.
Pinch the seam together. There are multiple ways to prepare your sandwich loaf for the pan. I’m still experimenting, finding the way I prefer. I’m going to go ahead and bet right now that it doesn’t make much of a difference. But it makes people feel better to say their way is superior.
Lightly oil your loaf and place seam side down in your pan. Let rise for another hour or until it’s risen about an inch above the rim.
Near end of rising time turn oven on to 350°. Make a wash out of honey and water. Brush loaf with mixture and sprinkle with oats, lightly tap oats with brush.
Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it. I don’t have a skewer thermometer so I couldn’t check the internal temperature but the GBD and hollow tests have worked so far.
If you didn’t get anything out of this post then good for you, you know more about bread than I do. But if you did, I hope it’s that bread making is a lot easier than you think. This was my second sandwich loaf and I think my fifth loaf of all time ever. Bread is easy, bread is your friend.