The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with whole grain sandwich bread?

tikidoc's picture

Help with whole grain sandwich bread?

I've done a search and have found some candidate recipes to play with, but I'm posting in case anyone can point me to what I am looking for.

My husband and kids like soft sandwich bread, and would eat Wonder Bread if I allowed it in the house (ick).  That said, they will eat home baked breads, as long as they stay soft, and will also eat grains with whole grains, although 100% whole grain breads usually don't get finished.  I work during the week and hubby stays home with the kids, and he has agreed to bake bread if we can come up with a dough that we can keep in the fridge, similar to the "Artisan in 5 min a day" breads.

So my ultimate goal is to find a recipe I can mix up over the weekend and throw in the fridge for him to bake up as needed during the week.  I would like to have a substantial amount of whole grain in the bread, but a blend with some white bread flour is OK - it will still be better than the stuff from the store that my husband will inevitably pick up otherwise.  I have a grain mill and a flaker, and I currently have a good supply of oats, Harvest Gold hard wheat berries, Kamut, as well as KASL and KAAP flours.  Everyone seems to like the flavor of the Harvest Gold and Kamut better than other WW flours I have tried.  I assume, in order to keep the bread soft, I will need to make some sort of an enriched dough, probably with both honey and either oil or butter.

If anyone has any suggestions for a recipe I can use as a starting point, it would be greatly appreciated.  I'd love to find something as close to the final result that I am going for - the less tweaking I have to do to get it right, the more likely I am to get them to accept the idea of eating home baked bread on a regular basis.

MichaelH's picture

Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor,  has been used by many on this forum with good results.

clazar123's picture

It sounds like you want a dough you store in the refrig to be baked several times a week-is that correct? For that, I would also check out "Whole Grain Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day"

If you want soft sandwich bread for the week, I bake every Saturday for the week. Would this work for you?

Soft loaves are achieved either with enrichment-oil, dairy or moisture retaining ingredients (fruit/potatoes/vegetables) or even a water roux method. Any recipe with whole wheat ALWAYS needs to stand for a while so all the bran bits have a chance to absorb water before baking-otherwise you end up with crumbly sandwiches.

Kamut adds a delicioius flavor to bread but it will not do well as the only flour in a loaf as it has a very stretchy type of gluten. It sinks into a puddle as a free-formed loaf without a pan and even in a pan it can be tricky to get the final proofing correct without collapsing into a  brick as it bakes.

Oats will make a denser crumb and making sure it has time to absorb water and developing the gluten from the wheat side of the recipe is very important.

There may be no quick fix for now. I found when I tried to convert my spouse over to healthy bread, my failures along the way as I went through a learning curve actually reinforced his certainty that any bread I made was not what he wanted for a sandwich. I found that when I had successes, he actually started asking for certain breads but it took a long time-there was still a lot of resistance to the idea that I COULD make a good sandwich bread he would like.He would ask for homemade bread on the weekend but then make his workday sandwiches from storebread. Eventually he started taking all his sandwiches on  my bread.In reflecting back, I think I should have just made the breads available( while still buying the store bread) and allow them to "discover" how good your bread is. Overall, it probably would not have taken so long. We should have a psychology forum here on TheFreshLoaf!

tikidoc's picture

The psychology forum idea would be helpful!  I think getting my husband to eat homemade bread is more difficult than the kids, and I know they have in part adopted his attitude.  He likes the whole grain breads straight out of the oven, but once cool, they are rejected for no longer being soft enough.  

Yes, I do have the "Healthy Bread in 5..." book on my Kindle - some of the recipes I was thinking about trying are in that book.  There is one for a soft ww sandwich bread, but it is really full of fat - 5 eggs and 2/3 cup of fat/oil to make two 2# loaves, plus 1/2 cup of honey.  I figured I would need to enrich the bread, but that's practically brioche.  The maple oatmeal bread also looks good and has much less added fat, and everyone in the house likes both maple and oats.  Has anyone made this one?

Michael, I have a couple of Reinhart's books but not that one.  I'll check it out the next time I'm in the library.  I looked on Amazon and even used, it's over $20 shipped and $19 for the Kindle version, which I'll be happy to spend if I knew for sure it had what I was looking for.

In general, I have been using about 20% Kamut in many breads, and have found that this works OK.  I put Kamut in my bagels (mostly KASL) and the family can't even tell the difference.  I just note they are a bit less glossy. I recently made a yummy oat and ww bread with about 1/3 Kamut and it was, um, very dense.  Tasty but much denser than anyone but me will eat.  Since switching from hard red wheat to the Harvest Gold (a hard white wheat), everyone likes the flavor better.  I'm also thinking of trying to pick up a seive to get any bigger pieces out of the flour, but I wonder if this also reduces the benefits of using whole grain.

As far as just baking on the weekend, if I could find a recipe for a bread that would stay soft enough to make everyone happy all week, that would be an option, but most of my breads are rejected on about day 3.  I was thinking about a dough that stays in the fridge because I figured this would be a good idea to help with getting a well risen whole grain bread, and my husband agreed to bake them as needed, as long as I made the dough.


wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

As far as just baking on the weekend, if I could find a recipe for a bread that would stay soft enough to make everyone happy all week, that would be an option, but most of my breads are rejected on about day 3.

For sandwich bread I always let it cool completely, then slice the whole loaf, then freeze it immediately. It is a simple matter to pop enough slices off the frozen loaf to make however many sandwiches are needed and put the rest right back in the freezer. A short defrost cycle in the microwave and it is hard to tell that the bread is not fresh out of the oven. If you are making the sandwiches in the morning to eat at lunch the defrost is probably not necessary.


dabrownman's picture

the same thing exactly!  Bread is alway fresh - just like it first cooled from the oven.  I actually freeze half since the other half is gone in 60 seconds!

clazar123's picture

Getting a loaf to the right proof may be more challenging to your husband than you think. You may end up with more bricks.

 I slice and freeze all the time. I make my lunch with the frozen slices and by the time lunch rolls around, it is defrosted and my sandwich is still chilled. But you have to have a good bread to do this so the slices don't crumble.

A lighter, whole wheat loaf is entirely do-able with some enrichment and mostly a technique change. Here is a basic recipe for whole wheat bread:

And here is how I would handle it:

  • Use the Harvest Gold White  Whole Wheat

The white whole wheat does not have much flavor or bitterness. Interesting note on the KAF recipe about using orange juice to cut that flavor.

  • Consider using a preferment

Take 1 c flour and 1 c water and 1/8 tsp yeast and mix together. Let set out 6-12 hours (night before  baking) . Add to dough the next day. You can just subtract the flour and water from the total amount in the recipe. This gives a flavor boost and moisture boost to the loaves.

  • Use a water roux

Take 1 tbsp flour and 5 tbsp water from the ingredients in the recipe. Mix in a larger bowl and microwave in 10 sec bursts,stirring well in between with a whisk or fork. Do this until it is a custardy consistency. Cool with a plastic cover so a skin doesn't form and add to dough when you mix it up. It adds some starch to the dough and helps keep it moist. BUt NOTE: water roux can make the dough feel sticky. That is normal and do NOT add extra flour to try and get rid of that feeling. Search "sticky dough" or "handling sticky dough"

  • Mix the dough later in the evening and retard in refrigerator overnight

I put mine in a large,oiled plastic container with a lid. It will raise almost to double by the next morning. Just let it finish rising to double, shape/pan, proof and bake. Wonderfully moist crumb for days.

  • Rest the dough to allow all the bran bits to absorb moisture. Makes a moister crumb later.

After mixing the dough just til everything is moistened and probably shaggy, let it sit for about 20-min to 1 hour. Then finish mixing. Continue with usual-rise,shap/pan,proof,bake. This is mandatory and the minimal time for resting a WW dough.

  • Watch the moisture level-don't be afraid to add extra.

When mixing the dough for whole wheat loaves, you want the dough to be almost sticky compared to a white bread loaf. As it sits, the bran bits will absorb the extra water and by the time it is risen double, it should then feel tacky rather than sticky.

  • Consider adding potato flakes,mashed potatoes,pureed bananas or other pureed fruit to the dough

These are moisture retainers that affect the crumb. I have made bread using mostly pureed bananas for liquid and the loaf had hardly any banana taste to it. It did have a darker color,tho. Potatoes have long been used for this.

  • Add some AP or Bread flour to the recipe

This will help lighten the loaf and also add a more easily developed gluten. Remember with WW, as you work the dough to develop the gluten, the rough bran bits can act as an abrasive and shred the gluten strands forming. Having a little less abrasiveness by having extra white flour can be a help and may make it more appealing to the husband and kids. You can gradually change this formula to more WW as they get used to it. Tricky mom!

So those are some ideas that may have more to do with technique than recipe. Have fun!




shastaflour's picture

What a marvelously helpful thread! I am challenged by the same issue around here. My husband is tolerant, but has said on numerous occasions that the bread isn't moist enough/doesn't stay that way. I have started using an autolyze period, which helps, but will begin to use the tips generously shared here to see if things can improve even more. :)

hanseata's picture

Do you also have "Artisan Bread Every Day" from Peter Reinhart? The Struan (multigrain) Sandwich Bread is my favorite recipe from all the different sandwich loaves in his books. Otherwise, I can also recommend the sandwich breads from his "Whole Grain Breads".