Friday, March 15, 2013

Multigrain Sandwich Bread

So many recipes lately, and so little initiative in the Taking Photos, Writing Them Down, and Posting Them department.  That department is full of slackers.  (Update 4/17/13: Per the request of the fans, bread was made again and photographed--poorly.  Enjoy :)

A couple months ago I made this really great loaf of bread from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  Last week I wanted to make it again, but it was blizzarding (again!) and I realized that I hadn't scanned the recipe out of the cookbook.  I tried another whole wheat sandwich bread from America's Test Kitchen, assuming they'd be nearly the same, but they were not; the second go around was much less fantastic AND much more time consuming.  Seriously, ATK--2 different whole wheat sandwich loaves with the same ingredients but different results?  Isn't that kind of excessive/unnecessary?  So today I trekked to the library to find the first recipe.  For my benefit, and yours, I'm sharing it, forever to be recorded on the internet so that I'm never without the recipe in the future.  (Do any other food bloggers cook from their own blogs?  Because I definitely do that!)
Multigrain Sandwich Bread (Adapted only ever so very slightly from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
Makes 1 9-inch loaf

1 cup warm milk (110°F) - I used 1%, they recommend whole.  I say whatever you have on hand.
cup warm water (110°F)
3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 Tablespoons (65 grams) honey
2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour
1 ½ cups (6 ¼ ounces) whole wheat flour
¼ cup wheat germ, toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant, about 5 minutes
¼ cup roughly ground flax seeds (optional)
1 envelope (2 ¼ teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1. Whisk the milk, water, butter and honey together in a liquid measuring cup

2. Combine the flours, wheat germ, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the liquid mixture.  Mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.

3. Increase the mixer speed to medium low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  If, after 4 minutes, the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl quite severely, add more flour as needed, 2 tablespoons at a time.  (I didn't need any more, but just in case).  The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom.
Before the first rise, right out of the mixer

Doubled in size
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it just to form it into a smooth, round ball.  Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning it once to coat the dough completely with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours. 

Well, not quite a 9 inch square.  But you get the idea.
5. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter, and press it into a 9 inch square.  Roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam closed.  Place the loaf, seam side down, into the greased pan.  Mist the top lightly with oil spray, and cover it again with your plastic wrap.  Leave it again in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size again, 45 to 75 minutes.

Before the second rise
6. Position an oven rack in the lower middle part of the oven and heat it to 350°F.  Brush the loaf lightly with melted butter, if desired, and spray lightly with water.  Bake until the crust is golden and the center of the bread registers 200°F on an instant-read thermometer, 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the loaf half way through baking.

7. Cool the loaf in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it out and letting it cool to room temperature on a wire rack (about 2 hours).

This bread is awesome for slicing and toasting, or making sandwiches--I made it for egg salad.  I also used it for several grilled cheese sandwiches.  It's hearty and a bit nutty, so it needs a stronger cheese, like a good sharp cheddar, to balance it.  


TIP:  If you're only baking for yourself, and you can't (or more accurately, shouldn't) eat an entire loaf of bread by yourself before it gets stale, slice a portion of the loaf and place the slices in a freezer bag. Toast slices straight out of the freezer and savor the pleasure of home baked bread for several weeks!

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