Look I realize talking about bread is very un-cool. Bread, gluten, flour in general has been shunned in favor of chia seeds, flaxmeal, and green juices and it's just sad. Don't get me wrong, I love a good green juice (had one this morning) and chia seeds (especially when paired with peanut butter) but I really love bread.
If such a declaration makes me uncool, well then I am OK with that.
Bread, freshly baked bread, warm from the oven is one of the most transcendent things. And I can kind of understand why people are willing to shun bread if all they know it to be are those plastic wrapped loaves of awfulness that are devoid of flavor and texture. Heck, I might even become gluten-intolerant if that was my only option.
But homemade bread is a whole other beast. It makes a sandwich (any old sandwich) about a billion times better. And don't we all want better sandwiches in our life?
It's been a while since I've made homemade sandwich bread but this particular recipe was calling my name. Namely because the word "forgiving" was thrown around a lot to describe the dough. Most people avoid homemade bread because bread dough can be a real pain in the ass. Sticky, finicky, all things you don't want to deal with. But this bread dough is utter perfection. Easy to deal with and yes, very forgiving. (Happen to have less then the required amount of yeast? It still rises perfectly as tested (unexpectedly) by me.) And it makes the most boring peanut better and jelly sandwich so much better. So can we all give bread a second chance?
Oat and Wheat Sandwich Bread
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
This is my go-to sandwich bread and I find that a stash of it in the freezer makes even the most sad desk sandwich something to look forward to. The dough is quite forgiving; use more water if you want to skip the milk, or use a soy milk. Use more sugar or salt, use less. Forget what you’re doing and it will forgive you if it rises a little too long. Accidentally leave it in the fridge for the better part of a week and it will taste even better than if you’d baked it on the first day, growing more flavorful with age.
Yield: 2 standard sandwich bread loaves
5 cups (635 grams) whole-wheat flour
2 cups (160 grams) rolled oats (I used quick-cooking for the least noticeable texture)
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse salt
3 tablespoons raw or brown sugar, honey or agave nectar
1 large egg
1/4 cup (55 grams grams) vegetable or olive oil, plus a little more to coat bowl
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk, any kind
1 1/2 tablespoons (about 14 grams) instant yeast
Make bread dough: In the bottom of large mixing bowl, combine water, milk and sugar or honey, then stir in yeast. Add egg and oil and whisk until combined. Add flour, oats and salt and if mixing with a machine, combine with paddle attachment at the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute. The dough will be wet and coarse; do not fret. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
If using a mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix the dough on medium-low for 2 more minutes. By hand, do the same with your spoon. The dough will seem firm and more smooth, ideally supple and sticky, but if it’s still very wet, add a bit more flour, a spoonful at a time. If it seems excessively stiff, add a little more water, a spoonful at a time. Continue to mix with dough hook or by hand for 4 minutes.
Scrape dough out onto lightly floured counter. Knead a few times, then form the dough into a ball. Oil your empty mixing bowl and return dough to it. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature for 60 to 70 minutes, or until doubled in buik or transfer to the fridge and let it ferment overnight or up to 5 days. If proofing in the fridge, remove the dough before the fridge about 3 hours before you plan to bake it.
Form loaves: Turn dough onto a floured counter and divide it into two equal pieces. Press each gently into a rough rectangle-ish shape. Fold in sides so that the first dough is roughly the width of your bread loaf pan (about 9 inches). Roll from bottom to top and then put this log into your bread loaf pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough. Let proof at room temperature for about an hour, or until the dough has crowned 1 inch above the rim of the baking pan. Halfway through, heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake bread: For 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans once for even color. A cooked loaf of bread will sound a bit hollow when tapped and the internal temperature should read 190 degrees F. Remove loaves from tins and let cool on a rack. If you’re planning to freeze bread, I like to let it cool completely before slicing it, then sliding the sliced loaf into freezer bags.