Light Wheat Sandwich Bread

This sandwich bread was so pretty! It also sliced like a dream. 🙂

The recipe is from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, via Smitten Kitchen.com. I weighed the flours and used coarse salt. I mixed and kneaded the dough in a stand mixer and used a proofing oven as well.

The original post had a link for the windowpane test– which was quite helpful! I added additional kneading time to my dough after it failed the test.

Yield: One 2-pound loaf

  • 2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz) granulated sugar or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz) coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1 oz) powdered milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz) instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz) water, at room temperature
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the high-gluten/bread flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter, honey (if using), and water.
  3. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed 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 that to be too stiff and tough.
  4. Using a dough hook, knead the dough on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes. (To knead by hand, sprinkle flour on the counter, and transfer the dough, and begin kneading, adding more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Kneading should take about 10 minutes.) The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F.
  5. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. (I used a proofing oven for 1 1/2 hours.)
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long.
  8. Form it into a loaf by working from the short side of the dough, rolling up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. It will spread wider as you roll it.
  9. Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.
  10. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan; the ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise. Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
  11. Proof at room temperature for approximately 60 to 90 minutes (final rising times vary), or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan. (I used a proofing oven and the dough was ready in about 45 to 50 minutes.)
  12. Preheat the oven to 350° F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. (I used the true convection setting.)
  13. Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  14. Rotate the pan 180° for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished loaf should register 190° F in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  15. When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

European-Style Crusty Bread

On Long Island, this bread would be called really good Italian bread. 🙂 The King Arthur Flour website titled it “The Easiest Loaf of Bread You’ll Ever Bake.” I think this may be true!

My husband is a bread guy, so I’ve made one of our favorite loaves a few times in the bread machine during this self-quarantine. It may be a little bit easier to use a bread machine, but not significantly. This loaf was a nice change- completely different- crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

This simple recipe is from King Arthur Flour.com. I weighed the flour, made the dough in a stand mixer, and used a proofing oven. My daughter declared that it was the best bread she’s ever had in her life!

Yield: 2 loaves

Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
  2. Stir together all of the ingredients (except the cornmeal) in a large bowl, starting with 542g (4 1/2 cups) of the flour. Use a sturdy spoon, or your stand mixer equipped with the beater paddle. Mix until everything comes together in a rough, shaggy mass of dough.
  3. If you’re using your stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead the dough at medium speed for about 7 minutes, until it’s smooth, elastic, and feels a bit bouncy. If the dough doesn’t form a ball that clears the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in just enough of the additional flour to make this happen. (I sprinkled in 1-2 additional tablespoons of flour.) (*If you’re kneading the dough by hand, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, using some of the additional 1/2 cup of flour called for. Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself towards you, then press it away from you with the heels of your hands. Rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this fold-press-rotate process with a rhythmic, rocking motion for about 6 minutes. When fully kneaded, the dough will be bouncy and smooth.*)
  4. Lightly grease a bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl; turn to coat.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or another airtight cover, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it’s doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours. If your kitchen is particularly cold (below 65°F), place the bowl of dough in your turned-off oven with the oven light on. (I used a proofing oven.)
  6. Gently deflate the dough and cut it in half. Pat each half into a rough 6” x 8” oval.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, grab a short side and fold the dough like a business letter (one short side into the center, the other short side over it). Use the heel of your hand to press the open edge of the “letter” closed.
  8. Gently pat and roll the dough into a log about 10” long. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
  9. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; generously sprinkle with cornmeal. The cornmeal will keep the bread from sticking and give it a crunchy bottom crust.
  10. Place the loaves, seam-side down, on the prepared baking sheet.
  11. Let the loaves rise, lightly covered with greased plastic wrap, for 45 minutes. They should become nicely puffy. Gently poke your index finger into the side of one of the loaves; if the indentation remains, your bread is ready to bake. (I used a proofing oven.)
  12. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F, preferably on convection.
  13. For extra-crusty crust and a great rise, add steam to your oven as follows: While the oven is preheating, place an empty cast-iron frying pan on the lowest rack. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  14. When your bread is risen, use a sieve to dust the loaves with a thin coat of flour. Then make three or four 1/2” deep diagonal slashes in each loaf; these slashes will help the bread rise evenly as it bakes. (Next time, I plan to cut the slashes deeper.)
  15. Place the bread in the oven and pour the boiling water into the frying pan below. Quickly shut the oven door. Wear good oven mitts during this process to shield your hands and arms from the steam.
  16. Bake the bread for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and a loaf sounds hollow to the touch when you tap it on the bottom. The interior temperature of the bread should register at least 190°F on a digital thermometer.
  17. Turn the oven off, crack the door open, and allow the bread to remain inside for 5 additional minutes; this helps keep the crust crisp.
  18. Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack. It’s best not to cut into the bread until it’s cooled down a bit; cutting into hot bread can negatively affect its texture.
  19. Store the bread, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days. Freeze for longer storage.

Note: An equal amount of active dry yeast can be substituted for instant yeast. Add it along with the other ingredients, no additional proofing is necessary.

Brown Irish Soda Bread with Rosemary

Happy St. Patrick’s Day-Eve! I hope that this post finds you healthy and able to use this self-quarantine time to bake.

I typically make a sweeter version of soda bread to serve for breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day. This savory version was a nice change. It was reminiscent of the rosemary biscuits that my husband and I enjoy at our annual anniversary dinner at Volt in Frederick, MD. I loved that it incorporated whole wheat flour.

This recipe is from Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I used coarse salt and decreased the baking time. We ate it with salted Irish butter. It was wonderful- very moist and tender.

Yield: One 8-inch loaf

  • 2 cups (256 g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups (240 g) 100% whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp coarse salt or fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T (57 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) pieces
  • 2 cups (450 g) cold, well-shaken buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 big pinch to 1 tsp flaky sea salt, for sprinkling, optional
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 425°F/220°C, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a 12×17-inch rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and dust it with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking soda, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal.
  5. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and honey.
  6. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture.
  7. First use a large flexible spatula, a then your hands, to mix the dough into a sticky mass. Be careful not to over-mix.
  8. Turn out the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and shape it into 6-inch/15 cm ball.
  9. Use a large, floured sharp knife to slice a deep “X” across the top of the bread, about halfway through the ball.
  10. Lightly brush the loaf with buttermilk. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. (I used a large pinch.)
  11. Bake at 425°F/220°C for 15 minutes.
  12. Rotate the pan and lower the temperature to 350°F/180°C and bake for 27 to 35 minutes more, or until the bread id deeply golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
  13. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Banana Bread with Crunchy Sugar Topping

I have one more recipe to share from the special baking book, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. (for now!) In the book, this recipe is titled “The Only Banana Bread You’ll Ever Need.” That is a little over the top for me- I always welcome new recipes for banana bread. 🙂

In this version, the super moist bread is topped with crunchy, snowy granulated sugar. The sugar is dampened and clumped together before sprinkling it over the prepared batter. I had never used this technique and I loved it. The topping looked beautiful and had a wonderful contrasting texture.

I weighed the bananas and all of the dry ingredients. I modified the recipe by baking it in a Pullman loaf pan, adjusting the baking time accordingly. We loved it!

Yield: One loaf, Serves 8 to 10

  • nonstick cooking spray for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups (400g) mashed, very ripe bananas (I used 3 1/2 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 T (196g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112g) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup (75g) well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T dark rum, optional (I omitted it)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plus 2 T (272g) unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 T (38g) granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 9×5-inch or Pullman loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper with a couple of inches of overhang on the long sides. Lightly coat the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, eggs, rum (if using), and vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and fold until just blended.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl.
  8. Using your fingertips, sprinkle water over the top of the sugar. Work the water into the sugar, pinching it together, until it begins to resemble snow. (It should barely hold together when it is pinched together.) To add additional water, sprinkle water over the top using the opposite (clean) hand.
  9. Sprinkle the dampened sugar over the batter, aiming to get it clumped up together in spots.
  10. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes in a Pullman pan or 60 to 70 minutes in a standard loaf pan.
  11. Let cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then use the parchment paper to lift the loaf out of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: Bread can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap and/or placed in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts & Raisins

One of my mom’s best friends shared her recipe for this special pumpkin bread with me. I first tried it last year over the holidays and absolutely loved it. She recommended using olive oil and whole wheat flour. I used olive oil and half whole wheat pastry flour this time. 🙂 It was incredibly moist and delicious.

I made one loaf in a standard loaf pan and the other in my new Nordic Ware fluted loaf pan to make it that much more special. I froze the special loaf to serve over Thanksgiving weekend. I love recipes that make one batch to enjoy right away and another for later- or to share.

Yield: 2 standard loaves

  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 15 to 16 oz can pumpkin purée (about 2 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl with a spout.
  4. Blend in the oil and water.
  5. Add and whisk in the pumpkin purée.
  6. In a separate large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
  7. Add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; whisk to combine.
  8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the pumpkin-egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  9. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
  10. Using a ladle, disperse the batter between the two loaf pans.
  11. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the bread tests clean in the center. (I baked mine for 62 minutes on convection.)
  12. Cool on a rack in the pans; remove when cool.

Italian Easter Bread Wreath

Happy Easter! I made this sweet and tender orange-scented bread to serve for breakfast with our hard-boiled Easter eggs. The texture was similar to panettone without the dried fruit.

As an aside, I have to share a photo of my Easter cat with his catnip carrot. ❤ We are all very festive in my house!

Because I live in fear of overbaking my sweets, I was disappointed that this loaf was slightly overdone after I had already significantly reduced the baking time in the original recipe. :/ Don’t worry! We still gobbled it up, but, I modified the recipe below. The sweet orange glaze made it a crowd-pleaser.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I weighed all of the dry ingredients and used vanilla and orange extract instead of Fiori di Sicilia. I also reduced the baking time and tented the loaf during baking. Pretty.

Yield: One 10-inch round loaf

For the Starter:

  • 120 g (1 cup) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) cool water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

For the Dough:

  • 269 g (2 1/4 cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 67 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange extract or orange oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional (I omitted it)
  • grated peel of 1 large orange

For the Glaze:

  • 113 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating
  1. To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours.
  2. Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny. We don’t recommend preparing this dough by hand, as it’s quite sticky and challenging to bring together. (I used the beater until the dough came together and the dough hook for about 7 minutes on medium speed to knead the dough.)
  3. Grease a large bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy. (I used a proofing oven.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together, and connect the two ends to form a wreath.
  5. Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  6. Bake the wreath for 10-15 minutes, then tent the loaf with aluminum foil and reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 8-15 minutes. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F. (I baked it at 375°F for 15 minutes, and 350°F for 10 minutes and the internal temperature of the loaf was 205°F.)
  7. Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
  8. To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.
  9. Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid, then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Streusel Banana Bread

As my son said after gobbling up his first piece, “This is GOOD banana bread!” 🙂 Really good. It’s probably because it’s actually more of a banana coffee cake. The streusel was amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I incorporated whole wheat flour. It made a very special breakfast but would also be a wonderful snack or dessert.

For the Streusel:

  • 6 T unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup banana purée from 2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Place an oven rack in the lower third. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with butter or cooking oil spray; line with parchment, leaving a 1-inch overhang on long sides.
  3. Make the Streusel: In a bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the butter and pecans until small clumps form and mixture is evenly moistened. (I used a pastry blender.) Set aside.
  4. Make the Cake Batter: In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together butter, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; stir in mashed bananas.
  6. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour banana mixture in. Stir together until just combined making sure not to overmix.
  7. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Sprinkle half of the streusel evenly over the batter.
  9. Add the remaining batter, then sprinkle remaining streusel over the top.
  10. Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes in a standard loaf pan (tenting with foil after 1 hour if browning too quickly), or 1 hour in a Pullman loaf pan.
  11. Let cool in pan 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely before serving.

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