Light Wheat Bread

Recipes like this are why I love baking bread. A couple of months again I shared a recipe for soft white sandwich bread which turned out great, but I think this bread may have surpassed it. I'd have to do a side by side taste test to know for sure. Whatever the case, both breads are delicious. One big difference is that this bread contains a little whole wheat flour, but not very much of it. The finished loaf was so soft and airy that I would never have been able to tell there was whole wheat flour in it without looking at it.

This bread would be wonderful for anything you would normally do with grocery store bread. It toasted up like a dream. I often have a problem with homemade bread toasting up unevenly, with the crust turning too brown and hard before the center is browned, but not with this bread. It made the best toast I've had to date, toasting up golden brown without getting hard (and it was perfect with my homemade strawberry rhubarb jam). The loaf disappeared so fast that I didn't have a chance to make any sandwiches with it but with tomato season fast approaching I think BLTs are are my next goal.

Soft, delicious slices, ready for anything

The players

Mix it all together

And knead
Ready to rise

 Shaped and ready for the second rise

 Bake it off and pull out this
beautiful golden brown loaf

Ready to slice, waiting 2
hours was an eternity!
Gorgeous and delicious

Perfect Toast

Light Wheat Bread
from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
  • 2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour 
  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz.) whole-wheat flour 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz.) granulated sugar or honey 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz.) salt 
  • 3 tablespoons (1 oz.) powdered milk 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz.) instant yeast 
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) water, at room temperature 
Stir together the high-gluten flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the shortening, honey (if using), and water. Stir until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water. The dough should feel soft and supple. It is better for it to be a little too soft that to be too stiff and tough.

Sprinkle high-gluten or whole-wheat flour on the counter, and transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Add more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Kneading should take about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The dough should pass the windowpane test and registers 77 to 81 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long. Form it into a loaf by working from the short side of the dough, rolling up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. It will spread wider as you roll it. Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan; the ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise. Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

Proof at room temperature for approximately 60-90 minutes or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven (mine was definitely done in 15 minutes). The finished loaf should register 190 degrees F in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.