I live for Sundays.
And I know you do too. Don’t lie. We lazy-folk take pride in our ability to put our feet up any chance we get, and we work hard to do things the easy way.
There will always be errands to run or parades to parade. But when Sunday rolls around, all I ever really want to do is sleep in well past nine o’clock and spend the day re-watching Game of Thrones. And then all that other stuff becomes instantly unappealing.
We all have those days, the ones that call for our comfiest pants (or no pants?) and a healthy amount of down-time. So today, we’re making the laziest of foods.
This loaf isn’t complicated, nor does it require you to be any kind of bread whisperer. It’s enriched with butter and buttermilk, so it’s soft and easy to work with (and it’s delicious). It also only takes a few hours from start to finish, so I’m pretty sure you’ll be making this for your next meal.
It may be a really tasty loaf of bread, but you can feel good about eating it because it’s made with 100% whole wheat flour – other whole wheat recipes use a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat, but because this loaf is enriched, it’s really not necessary to get a softer crumb. This was my go-to bread recipe when I was in college because in my head, the whole wheat balanced out all the beer and poutine I’d have on Saturday nights.
Food logic at its finest.
I also use vital wheat gluten, which is literally pure gluten protein (otherwise known as “the devil”, depending on your sensitivities). Whole wheat makes it hard for gluten to form because of how fibrous it is, so adding extra gluten gives it the stuff it needs to build a better gluten infrastructure. You can get vital wheat gluten in the baking section of most grocery stores, but the recipe will still work without it if need be.
This bread is ideal for sandwiches because it’s soft, lightly sweetened with honey, and its tight crumb holds up even the heartiest of toppings. So go ahead, make today a lazy day and take a break from all of life’s crazy. You deserve it.
Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
By L., yields one 8×4” loaf
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, browned
3 cups (13.7 ounces) whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (I used Bob’s Red Mill’s)
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
After browning the butter, set it aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl combine the flour, gluten, and salt. In a measuring cup, mix together the warm water and the buttermilk – this should give you a mixture that is about room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or large bowl if mixing by hand), combine the yeast, water mixture, and honey. Mixing on low speed, add the flour mixture. Knead on medium-low for a few minutes until it comes together, then increase the speed to medium-high and knead for 10 minutes (or remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand on a lightly floured surface).
After 10 minutes, turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes to relax. Then knead for another 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a well-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 1-2 hours at room temperature – it won’t double in size, but it will become noticeably puffy.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently press it into a relatively flat square. Then, starting from the side farthest from you, roll the dough up towards you – be gentle, but be sure to roll it tightly enough for it to have some tension, slightly tucking in the ends as you go. Place the shaped loaf into a greased loaf pan, and cover with a clean towel for another 1-2 hours at room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 400F. When the dough has risen by about 50%, pop it in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. The loaf should be browned, with an internal temperature of at least 180F. If you don’t have a thermometer, tap the top of the loaf – if it is hard and has a slightly hollow sound, it’s done.
Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before turning the loaf out to cool completely before slicing. Enjoy for breakfast with butter and jam, or go the savory route with some avocado toast. You can do no wrong.