Cheap Recipe: Easy Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

4 Aug

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

The supreme density of this moist loaf supports even the thickest “Dagwoods.”

Okay, so even posting this recipe today is killing me, because I am on a medical fast. And frankly, the great big photo of this heavenly, sweet bread staring at me right now as I type is supreme torture. I believe the feds will be using this method in lieu of waterboarding in the near future.

But seriously, you need to make this bread. Today. Right now. It is super easy to make, without a lot of the excess steps that bog down so many other worthy bread recipes I’ve encountered. I’m spoiled by it. And best of all, unlike some other wonderful recipes, making it won’t tie up your whole Saturday.

Did I mention it’s also nice hot-weather bread because the bake time is so quick (20 minutes or less)?

So go dig out your biggest, heaviest, happiest-looking bread bowl and roll up your sleeves.

stoneware nesting bowls

Just look at this beautiful set. It's not even my china pattern, but I don't care. If anyone's looking for Christmas ideas for me...haha. (Click on photo to buy online!)

Chef’s Diversion: I remember as a kid, after my mom’s holy-grail-of-breadbowls cracked, she went on a several-years-long mission to replace it with another bowl as worthy. (She took her breadmaking seriously.) I knew I had come of age when I went on a similar quest–the right size, shape, weight…everything matters. For an example, check out the blue (largest) bowl in the photo to the right. That’s what I’m talking about.

The first thing you’re going to do is microwave 1/3 cup honey for 15 seconds or so until it is a thin liquid. Set aside to cool slightly. This is important, as you’ll be kneading immediately with it once you add it, so having it too hot will both kill the yeast and also render your bowl of dough full of hot spots you can’t touch with your bare hands. (Does this sound like the voice of experience talking?)

Store your yeast in the freezer inside a plastic ziplock bag to extend its shelf life!

In your breadbowl, quickly stir 1 cup white bread flour with 1 cup warm (not hot!) water. (When working with yeast, it’s a good idea to have the water around 110 degrees or slightly under. But as the pros say, if it’s cool enough to comfortably stick your finger in for longer than a second or two, it’s probably not hot enough to kill the yeast, so don’t bother digging out a thermometer for this task.)

There's a difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour. If at all possible, use bread flour. If not, this recipe is easy enough you can probably get by on regular all-purpose.

Add 1/2 tablespoon salt and 1 packet Rapid Rise (or regular) breadmaker’s yeast, and stir briskly with a wooden spoon. (I’m a Fleischmann’s girl by birthright but have gone with store brand in the past without cathartic results.)

Next, add your honey and mix well. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup more of the bread flour. Stir as long as you can with your spoon, and then flour up your hands and the top of your dough ball with another 1/2 cup white bread flour. (Gold Medal is good, King Arthur is good, but any bread flour should be just fine for this easy recipe. Shop your discount market with confidence in this situation.)

Honey: warm enough to blend easily but not hot enough to kill the yeast. Very important!

Work as much of the remaining flour as you can into the dough with your hands, and then cover bowl with a damp dishtowel (or plastic wrap ) and let it rest for about ten or fifteen minutes.

Flour your counter (or other breadmaking surface) and place dough in the middle. Stand on a stool if you’re short like me to make sure you have plenty of leverage to properly knead the bread.

Smack the center of the dough and watch your handprint shrink as the dough withers. Now you can knead the dough for as many minutes as you like (up to fifteen, if you’re particularly stressed out and enjoying the pounding session).

Dough, before kneading.

According to my mother, the amount of kneading you do at this stage is what determines the texture of your bread–the longer you knead it, the smoother the grain of your bread will seem when it is cut, and the thinner you’ll be able to cleanly cut slices with a good bread knife.

Get butter into the corners of the pan, too!

Butter your loaf pan. Every nook and cranny, mind you! (If you like a wide, flatter bread, go with a large pan. For a more square, store-like shape to your slices, use a smaller loaf pan.)

Shape the dough into a loaf shape and place in the pan, or for a more uniform, flatter, sandwich-ey top to the loaf, simply press the dough into the pan and smooth around until top is level.

Throw a dish towel over the top and let it rise in a warm place.

Cover top of pan loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. (If you leave it on a cool kitchen counter, it won’t rise nearly so much and you’ll have a pretty small finished loaf of bread.) I set my bread out on the front porch during the summer and let the sun go to work for me.

Rising bread dough should double in size, approximately.

After 45 minutes of rising time, preheat oven to 350 degrees. When dough has finished rising, remove plastic wrap, place loaf pan(s) on a cookie sheet, and then into the now-heated oven.

Keep a close eye on rising bread dough outdoors by taking your little lovies out to play. (The Southern Illinois sun was so hot we waited this one out in the carport!)

Bake 15-20 minutes and marvel at the wondrous smells wafting from your kitchen. Remove from oven when tops have just begun to turn golden tan.

Turn the baked loaf from the pan (upside down onto bread rack or into clean dishtowel works well to get it out of a hot tin) and coat all over outside of loaf with butter.

Butter up that crust!

Wrap immediately in aluminum foil and place elevated on wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Stored unused portion of loaf in Tupperware unsliced for longer shelf life. Delicious as a sandwich or, my personal preference, smeared with cool margarine. Yum!

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One Response to “Cheap Recipe: Easy Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread”

  1. redforkhippie August 4, 2010 at 12:47 PM #

    And if you’re too lazy to bother kneading, you can buy a bag of self-rising flour and a beer and cut straight to the baking stage: 3 c. flour, 1 c. beer, 3 tbsp. honey. Mix, bake, eat. Not *quite* as good as Mom’s, but fine for office parties and late-night cravings. 🙂

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