Jun 22, 2010

Recipe: Whole Wheat Milk Bread

This was one of the recipes I made when I had to use up that gallon of milk. I’ve been making this bread almost weekly for a couple of months now. It’s my go-to sandwich bread, as it’s much lighter than the artisan bread. I still keep artisan bread dough in my fridge, and I’ve discovered that working with the artisan bread dough has made me a better bread baker in general. I’d made this milk bread before discovering Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,but it never came out as light and delicious as it does now, and I think that’s because I’ve become more comfortable and familiar with dough.

I mix my dough in a 4 1/2-quart stand mixerusing the dough hook, so the recipe below is for a stand mixer. But I’m sure you could also mix the dough by hand or maybe even in a food processor. You may also be able to mix the dough in a bread machine, but unless your machine is quite large, I wouldn’t recommend baking in it because you’re looking for a large, high loaf.

Whole Wheat Milk Bread - adapted from The 1997 Joy of Cooking
makes 1 large loaf

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 1/4 cups milk, warmed to 105° to 115° F
5 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1. Place the yeast in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. In a medium bowl (or Pyrex measuring cup, which is what I use), combine the milk, butter, sugar, egg and salt. Pour the milk mixture over the yeast and mix to combine.

2. Add the whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, and bread flour to the bowl, and mix on low. When the flour is incorporated, increase speed to medium and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Dough should be slightly sticky but mostly smooth when kneading is done.

3. Form the dough into a ball and place in a large, oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.

4. Punch the dough down and knead a few times, then cover again with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a nonstick 8 or 9-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let stand until doubled in volume again, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 375°. Brush the top of the loaf with milk. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing.

Some notes:
1. You can omit the whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten and use 3 1/2 cups of bread flour for a soft, slightly sweet white sandwich bread. I started with the all-white version, but I like the added fiber that whole wheat flour provides - and white whole wheat flour is so mild that my kids haven’t noticed or complained. The whole wheat version is also a little sturdier and easier to slice.

2. I keep sliced loaves in the freezer in zip-top bags with the air squeezed out. We go through the bread quickly enough that freezer burn isn’t an issue. But if I were going to keep the bread longer than say, two weeks, I would wrap it well in plastic wrap before freezing.

3. The loaf will be quite large, which I find perfectly suited to sandwiches, especially since I slice the bread quite thin. Also, my kids don’t eat crust, so the larger size means I’m not wasting filling at the edges unless I over-fill the sandwich.


JM said...

So I think I may have started this awesome dough a little late in the day- do you have a recommendation as to what stage you can take a break in the rising and leave refrigerated overnight? Thanks for the suggestion!

Chief Family Officer said...

You can try leaving it refrigerated overnight at the stage where it goes into the fridge before the final rise. However, I'll caution that the one time I did this, I found the dough didn't rise as well for the final product. Good luck!

JM said...

Thanks... that's the method I ended up going with, and as you experienced, it didn't rise a whole lot at the end. Honestly though- it was still delicious! Just made a second batch last night- better timed :)