Light Wheat Bread

Husband really loves the strawberry & almond bread I’ve been making, but I wanted to try something new.  Back to The Bread Bakers Apprentice I went.

This recipe is from The Bread Bakers Apprentice.

No substitutions were made.

light wheat bread 1

Light Wheat Bread

2 1/2 c unbleached high gluten or bread flour – I used bread flour
1 1/2 c whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tblsp granulated sugar or honey – I used honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tblsp powdered milk
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tblsp shortening or unsalted butter at room temperature – I used shortening
1 1/4 c water, at room temperature

Stir together the high-gluten flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4 quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).  Add the shortening, honey (if using) and water.  Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball.  If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water.  The dough should feel soft and supple.  It is better for it to be a little too soft than to be too stiff and tough.

Sprinkle high-gluten or whole-wheat flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook).  Add more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky.  Kneading should take about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine).  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

The most reliable method to determine when gluten development is sufficient is called the windowpane test, sometimes referred to as the membrane test.  This is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching, pulling and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane.  If the dough falls apart before it makes this windowpane, continue mixing for another minute or two and test again.

Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

light wheat bread 2

Remove the dough from the bowl and pres it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches long.  Form it into a loaf.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8.5×4.5 inch bread pan.  Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

Forming the loaves: Flatten the measured piece of dough with your hand, folding in the edges to make and even-sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.  Working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  the loaf will spread out as your roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8 to 9 inches.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out; do not taper the ends.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled loaf pan.  The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise.

Proof at room temperature for approximately 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and back for 30 minutes.  Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven.  The finished loaf should register 190 degrees in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferable 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

light wheat bread 3

cartoon-strawberry-9I laughed when this loaf came out of the oven.  It reminded me of the Muppet loaf of bread that showed up on Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.  This is a great standard loaf of bread.  Toast, sandwiches, whatever.  This is a great recipe to have on hand!

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