Adventures in Baking Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I am on a mission this spring. I want to master the art of baking hearty whole wheat sandwich bread. I love fresh bread so much, and I know that if I can figure out to bake our favorite kind from the bakery at home, it will be awesome. So I have been tinkering away these past few months, and here are the results so far. The recipe is the same for each loaf; I am just experimenting with the flour ratio, the amount of seeds and grains, and (within reason) the quantity of yeast. I will share the final recipe when I’ve got it perfected, but I thought today it would be fun to have a little baking show and tell.

This is the first loaf I tried. It has all whole wheat flour, and you can see the result: flat as a pancake! It just did not rise, and, while I knew this would probably happen, I had to try it for myself. Whole wheat flour is just different from white flour or bread flour and doesn’t rise as well on its own. Lesson learned!

I also put in about a cup of seeds and grains: amaranth, millet, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Without the rise of a normal loaf, the grains and seeds sort of turned this bread into a giant glorified cracker. However, it is pretty good sliced thin and buttered, as you can see here. Its main function, though, is still as a cracker. It’s perfect for slicing thin, toasting, and topping with goat cheese and herbs. Still, not quite what you’re looking for as a sandwich loaf!

On this next loaf, I changed the flour proportion. This is 2 1/2 c white/bread flour to 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour. It rose much more promisingly, and I was excited! As you can see, this loaf looks much more like bread. And it tastes more like bread too!

I have been using it all week for sandwiches. This is my new favorite: chickpea and avocado salad. This bread is really perfect with savory toppings, since it has the slight tang of fermented ko-knead bread, but it isn’t something you’d want to put peanut butter and jelly on, I think. And it still doesn’t have perfect rise for sandwich bread. So, I am going to keep working on it! Next time I’ll try a 3:1 ratio, and, if that doesn’t give me the rise I’m looking for, I’ll go even higher! In the meantime, if any of you have a favorite recipe, I’d love to try it! Happy sandwiching!

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