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Updating an old favorite – sandwich bread

Ever since I started grinding my own flour, I’ve updated favorite recipes to incorporate the cheaper and healthier whole wheat flour.  Today I’m sharing my “new” recipe for our family’s sandwich bread.  Just a note, I make six loaves of this at a time to freeze so that I don’t have to bake every weekend.  It’s so so so important to remember this next sentence.  If you double or triple the batch, you need to make each batch one at a time; it does not double well in the Kitchen Aid bowl.  You’ll have dough all over the mixing mechanic thingy.  Or, um, so I’ve heard.

I received two cast iron bread pans for Christmas and they’re my new favorite!  I’m slowly working to replace my old pans with the cast iron as budget allows.  If you ever come across one at a thrift store, do yourself a favor and snatch it up!  It makes the bottom and sides of the dough the absolute perfect texture.

New old sandwich bread
-1 cup of King Arthur Bread flour (still use a little of this because I love what it does for the rising.  I’ve found that Target of all places has the absolute cheapest prices on this brand)
-4.5-5 cups of freshly ground flour (I use hard white berries for this)
-5 heaping tblsp of vital wheat gluten (you can get this in any grocery store with a decent bulk bin section.  I get it on Azure Standard for $1.98 per pound).
-1 tblsp of lemon juice
-1.5 tsp of sea salt (I use Real Salt)
-1/3 “heaping” cup of honey (I use local raw)
-1/3 cup of olive oil (we use organic from Costco)

Follow the directions here for making the bread.  Instead of proofing with sugar, use the honey.  And when you add the flour, add the vital wheat gluten, and lemon juice. Those are the only changes to the original recipe.  Oh, and I never ever ever use cooking spray anymore.  I use olive oil to coat the bowl, and melted vegetable shortening or coconut oil to coat the bread pans.

We love the “mostly” whole wheat bread even better than the white bread!  The slices we make are thinner because it is more dense and filling.  Jack loves to play “baby squirrel” and sneak some of the dough while it’s proofing and eat it in the corner.  I’m serious!  Look closely at this picture, most of the loaves have toddler prints in them.

The transition from all white flour to mostly whole wheat bread took a bit of experimentation, but we’re all very very happy with the results.  Thank goodness, because we had to suffer our way through some dense and ugly loaves.  The new loaves are better for us and so much cheaper!  A general rule of thumb is that 1 cup of wheat berries yields 1.5 cups of freshly ground flour.  I’ve used less than 50 pounds since last October for all our bread needs – and we eat a lot of bread!  I’m not 100% confident in these estimates, so please correct me if I’m wrong (I know it’s hard to generalize weight per cup.  Most the the time the weight conversion is for fluid ounces.):

1 cup generally equals 8 oz
2 cups generally equals 1 pound
50 pounds of wheat berries means 100 cups of wheat berries
1 cup of wheat berries yields 1.5 cups of flour for 150 cups of flour per 50 pounds of wheat berries
50 pounds of organic hard wheat berries is currently $32.40 on Azure Standard
Each cup of flour is about $.22
Using a scant 5 cups of flour for this recipe costs $1.10 and yields two loaves at $.55 each (for the flour only, I’m not estimating the other ingredients).
My cup of King Arthur flour is $.39, which brings the flour total to $1.49 or $.75 per loaf.

Compared to the King Arthur Bread flour which is $3.89 for 5 pounds which works out to about $.39 per cup of flour.  Or $2.34 (6 cups) per batch which is $1.17 per loaf for flour.

My sister has the best of both worlds – she purchases the wheat berries, and I store and grind them for her.  She has two flour buckets, and I keep an empty one at my house.  When she is in need of more flour, she “places an order” and I bring it to family dinner that week.  Lucky bitch.

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21 comments on “Updating an old favorite – sandwich bread”

  1. Maybe a dumb question but – do you not add any water to your dough? What are you proofing the yeast in?

  2. Ok, I now have the grinder and the berries. Stupid question, do I add vital wheat gluten to everything I make with the freshly ground flour (like muffins/quick breads etc), or just to items I make with yeast (like breads/pizza crust etc)

    • For me, the general rule of thumb is that I add the VWG (Vital Wheat Gluten) to anything I want to be “fluffy”. Clear as mud? LOL.

      Basically I add it to anything I’m baking with the flour. I generally leave it out of pizza dough because we prefer a thinner crust.

  3. Those loaves make me hungry! I should experiment with making bread at some point…

  4. That bread looks absolutely amazing!

  5. I have a wheat grinder and wheat berries on my wish list because of your blog! Awesome! Maybe I will get both for mothers day… ? I did inform my husband that is what I wanted.. He kinda gave me a strange look..

  6. Where can I but Wheat Berries & how would do you find them?

  7. I really need to try my hand at baking bread again. I so badly want to have homemade bread, but it never seems to work for me 🙁

  8. Can you someday post about other things you make with your flour? I bought some winter red hard berries (or whatever the official name for them is, whole foods only had this kind) and ground them in my magic bullet (I’m saving for a grain mill of my own… which hopefully will come someday soon on account that the bullet didn’t seem to like that the berries weren’t a breakfast shake or a margarita) and I made scones out of it! I just substituted my flour for what the recipe called for… and they came out kind of dense and flat. I’m just wondering if it’s my lack of scone talent or my misunderstanding of homemade flour?

    • Emily, sure! I’ve been thinking about doing posts on updated recipes each week to incorporate whole wheat. The short answer is that I make everything with my flour. Anything that requires flour, I use my freshly ground stuff.

      I doubt a Magic Bullet would grind it small enough. Between that and the (likely) lack of vital wheat gluten, and I wouldn’t doubt that your product was so dense! I’m sure your scone understanding is fine though. ;-D

  9. I am a very lucky bitch. By the way I need more flour!

  10. According to the King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking Cookbook, 1 cup of flour equals 4.25 ounces by weight. Liquids tend to equal 8 ounces by weight to 1 cup by volume. I really like the King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking Cookbook and I highly recommend it for all of your whole or mostly whole grains baking. I am even giving one away right now on my food blog at http://www.jensnaturalkitchen.com.

  11. What kind of grinder do you have? There are so many kinds!! 🙂