How to make your own sandwich bread

Today: How to make two loaves of your own delicious sandwich bread. This is a wheat-white-and oat blend, and even if you’ve never made bread, you can do it, too!

You need:

Yeast .75 oz (three packets of active dry)
Granulated sugar 2 Tbsp
Salt 2 Tbsp
Water (warm) 4 c
White flour (all purpose is fine, bread flour is nicer) 5-6 c
Wheat flour (bread or pastry flour works) 4-5 c
Oats (rolled, steel cut, etc) 1 c

*Optional vegetable oil for brushing

1) Put your yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour in your warm water, and mix the solution with a wooden spoon to prevent clumping.

2) Pour in 4 cups of white flour, and mix thoroughly.

3) Once the mixture is well blended, pour in 5 cups wheat flour, and 1 cup oats. Begin to mix the ingredients as well as you can as it begins to stick and stiffen.

4) Add one more cup of white flour and mix as best you can. Dust your work surface with flour, and then transfer the dough to the surface. You’ll probably want another cup of flour ready as you knead the dough and work in small amounts of flour. You want the dough to stiffen into a workable ball, but not be too dry. It’s a balance–more practice makes perfect!

5) Let the dough rest and rise for about 30 minutes in a covered, greased bowl.

6) Once risen, gently punch down the dough in the bowl, and loosen it with a jiggle. Transfer the dough to a flour dusted surface. Gently shape the dough so you can weigh it…or split it best you can into two equal pieces.

7) This part takes practice–round the pieces into oval loaves and fold the crease to the bottom. You’ll put these into two large greased bread pans. (Non-stick spray works) Make sure the loaves are centered.

8) Let the loaves rest another 30 minutes or so, until they rise above the pan edge. Pre-heat your oven to about 405 F.

9) Bake for 50 minutes.

10) Transfer the browned loaves onto a cooling rack right away. Your best bread experience is about 24 hours away–though if you sneak a little now you’ll be forgiven.

11) Enjoy!!

Start with a big mixing bowl—it needs to be big to make two big loaves—and put in three quarter ounces of active dry yeast, either in the packets, or otherwise.

You’ll also add your 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of salt.

I like to pour in my 4 cups of warm water at this point, though some other bakers like to mix the yeast thoroughly with flour first.

I begin my dough with 4 cups of white flour, then 4 to 5 cups of wheat flour. After each batch of flour, be sure to mix thoroughly, get out the lumps, be sure flour is mixing in. I prefer using the wooden spoon to connect me with the dough—it’s cathartic. But you can do whatever works for you, of course.

With the wheat flour I also add the oats to this batch, a cup of rolled oats does nicely. And again, you need to try to blend everything together as the dough begins to get sticky and sluggish as you mix. Do the best you can to keep mixing, and then add in a final cup of flour—I usually end with white flour. Typically I’ll fill my cup with more white flour, and I’ll dust my work space and have it on hand for the transfer from bowl to counter.

This part will get easier the more bread you make, but the goal is to add enough flour so that the dough stiffens, but not so much that it’s totally dry. It’s about kneading, and bringing in small amounts of flour until you can form a ball of dough that holds together. I spray another bowl with canola oil to let the dough rise—this will take 30 minutes maybe more depending on temperature. In the colder winter months I notice it definitely takes longer.

You need to gently punch down the dough, and then I like to jiggle the bowl to loosen it from the sides before pouring it onto my flour dusted surface. After a haphazard shaping I like to weigh the dough, because I’ll be cutting it into two relatively equal loaves.

Shaping this dough is again a balance between forming a cohesive oval loaf, while tucking the crease to the bottom, but not kneading it too much so we keep some of the yeast progress so far. Once you have two loaves you’ll put them into greased, large bread pans—I use canola oil for this, too.

Sometimes I’ll jiggle the loaves in the pans just to even them out and get them in the center. I like to very lightly oil these loaves, just a brush with vegetable oil. I’ll then sprinkle some oats, and maybe sea salt. This is a good time to pre-heat the oven at 405 F.

We cover these loaves and let them sit another 30-40 minutes until they have grown beyond the pan a bit. Once the shape is nice, pop them in the oven for about 50 minutes.

Once they’re well and browned, take them out of the oven and right away out of the pan and onto a cooling rack. These loaves come right out when you flip over the pan. Let the loaves cool. I know it smells amazing, and you want to nomnom eat it right away, but your best sandwich slices are still about 24 hours or longer away.

And there you have it—homemade wheat-white-oat sandwich bread. Happy baking!

Baking Vlog Ep. 7: Pumpkin Spice (Quick)bread

I’ve been a journalist for about 15 years, working in the US, Germany, and Switzerland, with stops in Oslo, Cairo, Prague, and more. But after I graduated from college with a journalism degree, I didn’t know exactly which direction I would head. I got a big break filling in for a reporter in Olympia, WA, and afterwards had a chance to be freelancer. But in between reporting gigs I needed something to pay for food, and gas…so I became a baker. Here’s a short story of me being a bread baker’s assistant:

Continue reading “Baking Vlog Ep. 7: Pumpkin Spice (Quick)bread”