Friday, December 5, 2014

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Two weeks ago I made bread! Whole wheat sandwich bread, more specifically. Lately I've been eating an almond butter sandwich for lunch on days where I was lazy and just wanted something quick. Because I like to indulge in pizza made from white flour most Fridays, I try to eat as much whole grains throughout the rest of the week. I also find that whole wheat flour tends to give food an extra dimension in flavor, especially in breads. I was so spoiled back in California. I didn't live too far away from Costco where they sold several vegan whole wheat breads (in packs of two!) for a very reasonable price. Unfortunately, there aren't too many whole wheat bread options at my neighborhood grocery store here in Philadelphia. The one vegan brand that they do sale is over $5 per loaf, and while that doesn't really break the bank in the long run, I do try to stick to a monthly budget and every little bit that I can save allows me to do more things that I enjoy. Plus the only store-bought option here isn't my favorite. I figured I'd give bread making a go and if it turned out to be a complete failure or it tasted like cardboard, then I could just go back to buying bread like a normal person. If on the other hand I actually liked the taste of homemade bread and it wasn't super time consuming, well then this little lesson in baking would save me from depending on the grocery store to support my almond butter sandwich addiction.

I googled "vegan whole wheat bread recipe" and looked at several different variations before selecting this one. I wanted a recipe with minimal ingredients (sandwich bread doesn't need to be super fancy when you're going to be dressing it up with sandwich fixings, just my opinion), and I didn't want the entire process to take over a day to make a single loaf of bread (this needs to be something that I can do pretty often if I want to make this a permanent change). The only change I made was using honey instead of maple syrup or agave. I know that most people don't consider honey to be vegan, and that's fine. I on the other hand eat honey and still consider myself vegan, but that's a whole other story. Anyway, I also did not take advantage of the cold dough fermentation option because I felt that was too time consuming for my needs.
The entire process of this bread baking experience took about 5 hours from start to finish, with the majority of this time spent waiting for the dough to rise.
I ended up overcooking the bread a little bit, so next time I'll bake it for only 40 minutes instead of 45.
I cut the bread into thicker slices and yielded 11 slices, including the heels. The bread doesn't taste that great on its own since there aren't really any flavorful ingredients, but an almond butter sandwich sounds delectable!
Yesterday I used up the last few pieces of bread to make myself a hearty veggie sandwich. Mostly I wanted a reason to eat more Field Roast Chao cheese slices. With the cheese I added Tofurky slices, hummus, shredded carrots, sliced olives, tomatoes, onion, and spinach. This was the best sandwich I've had in the longest time and it was honestly due to the bread. Even though the bread was in the freezer for several weeks and after defrosting it in the microwave for a minute, it still tasted really fresh. I've never had any brand of store-bought bread, vegan or non-vegan, taste this freshly made (except of course for bread bought directly from a bakery).

This recipe produced the perfect whole wheat sandwich bread and I'll definitely be making it again, probably like every other week to be honest actually!