Whole wheat sandwich bread

A few years ago, I posted a recipe about homemade sandwich bread.  It was yummy, it was tasty, and it was full of white flour.  It worked for us.

Then?  Then, a Wondermill came in to our lives.

Suddenly fresh and healthy whole wheat flour was right at my finger tips.  I had to learn how to remake bread.

And lord have mercy, I'm so glad I did because this bread is even better!

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes two 9x5 loaves

2 cups of hot water (~110 degrees)
1 tblsp, plus 2 tsp active dry yeast (my favorite is Bob's Red Mill)
1/3 cup honey, preferably raw
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil (I use Costco's organic)
1 cup King Arthur Flour bread flour (optional)
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (if you're buying it at the store, look for "whole wheat pastry flour")
5 tblsp vital wheat gluten

I make this in my Kitchen Aid mixer.  If you mix by hand, your arms will be banging, but I have absolutely no idea how long the directions below will take you.

And once you get the hang of it, go crazy like I do, and make 8 loaves at a time!  That way I'm only baking every 2-3 months.  The loaves freeze beautifully.

1) In a mixing bowl, pour in the hot water, and add the 1/3 cup honey.  Stir to combine. Add the yeast, and stir to combine.  The yeast will not mix in to the water completely; you just want to whisk it around a bit.  This will create the "sponge".

Set aside for about 30 minutes, or until the yeast has activated and more than tripled in size.
After 5 minutes
After 30 minutes
2) Add the salt, olive oil, vital wheat gluten, bread flour, and whole wheat flour to the sponge.  If you want a 100% whole wheat dough, omit the King Arthur bread flour, and add another cup of whole wheat flour, plus an additional 2 tblsp of vital wheat gluten.

Using a bread hook in your mixer, mix the dough until it clings to the hook and almost all the dough is off the sides of the bowl.  If the dough seems "shaggy" or is still sticking to the bowl, slowly add more whole wheat flour by 1/4 cup.

 Add a drizzle of olive oil to a clean bowl and place the dough in there, turning to coat.

Cover the bowl with a wet rag, and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3) Punch the dough down, return it to the mixing bowl, and mix it with the hook for an additional minute.
After 1 hour

4) Grease up two 9x5 bread pans.  I melt a little butter and then brush it on the bottom and sides of the pan, paying special attention to the corners.

5) Remove the dough from the bowl, and break it in two equal chunks.  I eyeball it to get the "equal" proportion.

6) Flatten out one portion.

Like you're rolling a sleeping bag, take one side and roll it up (think like a cinnamon roll).

Pat the edges to fit the size of the bread pan (these are my favorite pans in the whole wide world), and put it in the greased pan.

7) Let the dough rise until doubled in size.  It typically takes about an hour depending on how warm your house is.

8) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Bake both loaves together for 32 minutes, or until the loaf makes a hollow sound if you "thump" it. That's right, we're thumping loaves.

9) Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Then, flip over to remove the loaf.  Quick like a bunny rabbit, flip the loaf over on the rack so that the top doesn't cave in.  Allow to cool completely before storing.  We always store the loaf we're currently eating in a bread bag (yes these things really do work).  The others get wrapped in foil and then stored in a 1.5 gallon Ziploc.

This homemade bread is beloved in our family.  There is a special little munchkin who adores it with homemade strawberry jam!
What do you mean you have to take a photo for your stupid blog?  I want my bread mommy!

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I've shared this over at Homestead Barn Hop, and From the Farm Blog Hop.