Monday, January 17, 2011

Always a Challenge - Whole Wheat Buttermilk Sandwich Bread

The title is a little bit curious, don't you think? I mean, whole wheat and sandwich bread are two terms that actually can go together nicely. But not always. The problem is always in the final product. Whole wheat flour is very different from regular white bread flour. It has less gluten, to start with. And also absorbs more liquid and does so more slowly. That means it needs to be kneaded for longer. And it needs to rest in order to absorb the water.Or sometimes you need to help out a bit with a little added gluten. Some bakers add some some regular bread flour to the mix (as much as 50%) to give the bread more structure and strength. I have made it my personal challenge to find a formula using only whole wheat flour that stays moist and supple, like a good sandwich bread should, for a few days, without becoming crumbly too soon. This bread comes closer, is delicious, and lasts a while before drying out and becoming a mass of crumbs. Oh, and it makes good sandwiches too!

This recipe is my adaptation of a recipe for buttermilk bread found in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking. Quite literally, this is one of the very best cookbooks for whole grain breads ever published. Hands-down great!

Here's What You'll Need for 2 loaves:
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water

3/4 cup (175ml) very hot water
1/4  cup (60ml) honey
1 1/4 cup (300ml) cold buttermilk (or soy milk to keep it non-dairy)

5 1/2 cups (830g) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons (11g) salt

2 to 4 Tablespoons butter or margarine (to keep it non-dairy)

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside for about 10 minutes.
2. In the meantime, mix the hot water in with the honey and the cold buttermilk (or soy milk). This mixture should be barely warm.
3. Mix the flour ( I used 'white' whole wheat flour) and then salt, thoroughly, then, make a well in the center. Add in the yeast mixture and the buttermilk (or soy) mixture.
4. Stirring from the center, mix, then knead the dough until it is smooth and the gluten (such as it is) is well developed. Mix in the butter (or margarine only at the end of the kneading/mixing. The butter/margarine enriches the dough and makes it softer. If you want to make rolls from this dough use the larger amount of butter/margarine, otherwise the smaller amount is fine for the bread.
5. Form the dough into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let it rise until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours).
6. Press down the risen dough, form into a ball once again, and let it rise a second time until doubled. This time it will take about 45 minutes.
7. Divide the dough into two, and form each half into a loaf. Place each loaf into a prepared loaf pan, and cover. Let them rest for at least 1/2 hour until they reach the tops of the pans.
8. Towards the end of this final rise, pre-heat the oven to 325 F (160 C) for loaves or 400 F (200 C) for rolls. If you shaped loaves bake them for about 45 minutes (or until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom). For rolls bake for about 15 minutes or until well-browned.
9. To really make these rolls or loaves special, brush them with melted butter (or margarine) when they are hot from the oven. This makes the crust soft and rich. And delicious!


  1. .הלחם נראה נהדר למרות שהוא מחיטה מלאה
    אם כבר מדברים על לחם שמחזיק מעמד מספר ימים, אני מעדיפה את הלחמים הגרמנים
    אכלתי שם לחם חום. לא חום כהה ולא לבן, שהחזיק מעמד עטוף בשקית נייר במשך כ - 5 ימים ורק הלך והשתבח
    .הוא היה נפלא עם חמאה
    אני מניחה שמדובר בכמות רבה יותר של שומן? למרות שהוא לא היה שומני
    ?יש לך מושג על מה אני מדברת

  2. אני חושב שאני מבין.את צודקת שמדובר בכמות גדולה יותר של שומן אבל גם הסוכר משחק תפקיד. בטח השמתמשו בסוכר חום או מולסה כדי 'לצבוע', את הבצק ואחר כך הוסיפו או חמאה או בגרמניה יכול להיות שומן חזיר. בכל מקרה שמן וסטוכר זה שם המשחק.
    יום טוב