I've been pretty busy with baking and scrounging up new recipes as of late. This is mostly because, well, I have nothing else to do right now. I do not have a job, and have been in active search for something since coming back from LA, but nothing. It is kind of difficult because I don't know how much longer Michael and I will be in Utah, thus the hesitation to get a job for only what could be 2-4 months. If it was only 2, I'd be less concerned with finding work and more with finding an apartment in Tallahassee and getting things set up for that. But, I don't know. It's really all up in the air right now. So...I have a lot of time on my hands. And I've been frequenting Pinterest a lot also, finding inspiration for recipes, future home, and such. It is addicting!
But, I digress and now return to the point of this post. Homemade wheaty sandwich bread, just like your momma baked and you could smell when you came home from school (or just how you dreamed that would happen!). Michael and I love this recipe from Cook's Illustrated. As always, it is the best out there. Their method for testing different amounts, ingredients, and cooking procedures is what makes all of their recipes foolproof. I've never made one of their recipes and had it turn out badly. Instead, I've made numerous recipes from other sources, then turned to Cook's Illustrated to try it again and reach perfection. They're that good.
You can bake up a loaf for easy and filling sandwiches for your kids, or just to snack on with some butter and jam. But for this particular baking adventure, I doubled the recipe so I could make 2 loaves for some new neighbors.
Our little apartment complex just had 2 new move-ins and Michael and I always like to take a loaf over and introduce ourselves. We prefer bread over cookies and cupcakes. Probably because we've always had people bring us those things as new move-ins and they're just so sugary. We need something of substance after a long days work of moving/organizing etc. This is where the perfect house-welcoming gift comes in! Moving is crazy and you may not have had time to go to the grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread just to make sandwiches for lunch or even dinner. And then you have some thoughtful neighbors surprise you with a warm and homey loaf of wheat bread. Perfect!
So, next time you have new neighbors and need to introduce yourself, maybe try this yummy, hearty, and filling loaf of bread. Tie it up in some pretty ribbon and slip a little note in there with contact info and a sweet message. It surely will NOT dissapoint!
(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated American Sandwich Bread)
Wheaty Welcome Bread
1 cup warm whole milk (110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for brushing
3 tablespoons honey
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 envelope instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
- Whisk the milk, water, butter, and honey together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If after 4 minutes, more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it into a 9-inch square. Roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam closed. Place the loaf, seam side down, in the prepared pan. Mist the load with vegetable oil spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size and the dough barely springs back when poked with a knuckle, 45 to 75 minutes.
- Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the loaf lightly with melted butter, then spray lightly with water. Bake until golden and the center of the bread registers 200 degrees on and instant-read thermometer, 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the loaf halfway through baking. Cool the loaf in the pan for 15 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before serving.
- Sometimes when you use whole wheat flour, you have to add a bit more all-purpose flour than the recipe calls for to make sure the dough is not too sticky. Whole wheat flour is denser and doesn't soak up the moisture as well as all-purpose flour.
- It is extremely important to get your water and milk WARM not scalding. This will ensure that the yeast stays alive and you won't have to start all over.
- Cooling the butter after it melts is essential; you don't want it to curdle once you add it to the other wet ingredients.