Even though I’m not always blogging consistently, I am always cooking (you should see how many posts are in my “to-do” pile...oops). I often go back to my tried and true recipes time and time again. But then, I start tweaking them, just a bit, and start settling in to a new version of a favorite.
Take Soft & Chewy Italian Bread for instance. I go back to that post constantly. Sometimes I make it as written (because it is super delicious that way), but more often I use the adaptation below.
It all started when someone asked me if Soft & Chewy Italian Bread could be made into sandwich loaves instead of freeform and how many loaves it would make (2, it turns out and I really liked how it held up to sandwiches).
That got me thinking about making a wheat version. I didn’t want to do 100% wheat, because those breads can be dry and dense (and my kids are starting to be much more vocal about how they like white bread better (but I like the health benefits of wheat), so I compromise to a 50% here).
I had a previous wheat sandwich bread posted (based off my grandma’s recipe), but I noticed that it could be a little sweet for sandwiches and had a tendency to get crumbly rather quickly.
This bread is the perfect answer - it is soft, yet chewy, and holds up well to sandwiches, even a couple days after it’s been baked. This one has become a staple in our house!
50% Wheat Soft Sandwich Bread
½ cup very warm water (115-120 degrees F)
4 ½ tsp instant yeast
4 ½ tsp sugar
2 cups lukewarm water
4 ½ tsp olive oil
2 ¼ tsp salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 egg + 1 tbsp water, whisked together (optional)
Place the very warm water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes or until foamy.
Add in the lukewarm water, olive oil, salt, and whole wheat flour. Mix with the paddle until combined.
Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining all purpose (or bread) flour. Knead for 5 minutes. The dough may still be wet and sticky, but if you pinch off a piece of dough, you should be able to roll it into a loose ball in your hands.
Dust a work surface liberally with all purpose flour. Place the dough onto the surface and knead 3-4 times. Cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then knead 3-4 times again. Repeat, kneading a few times every 10 minutes for one hour.
Lightly grease two loaf pans (8x4 preferred, but 9x5 will also work)
Divide the dough in two. Form each half into a loaf by pulling the sides of the dough around and pinching on the bottom to create a cylinder shape. Then pinch the ends under to make a loaf. Place in the preheated loaf pans
Whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to raise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375. Rotate the pans and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the bread is browned. If desired, check for an internal temperature of 190-200 degrees to ensure that it is cooked through.
Move loaves to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove from pans and cool completely before slicing.
Makes 2 loaves