BYOB: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Sandwich Loaf

Well, I've cranked out enough loaves of our default whole wheat sandwich bread that I now feel I've got it mastered. In my bread machine, anyway. :)

I wasn't at all confident I would be able to produce a loaf that my SO and son would embrace so I was particularly thrilled to have good, repeatable results. We haven't bought sandwich bread in over six weeks!

So here's my recipe, in all its simple glory:
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Sandwich Bread (1.5 lb loaf)
Adapted from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, p 439, for the Breadman Ultimate machine.

1¼ cup water (warm for molasses, hot for honey)
2 Tablespoons honey or molasses
2 Tablespoons oil or cold butter
1¼ teaspoons salt

3 cup less 2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour (red or white, not pastry flour, 14.3 oz by weight)
3 Tablespoons buttermilk powder

1½ teaspoons yeast

Pour water into bucket of bread machine, add sweetener and stir to dissolve. Add salt to bucket, stir. If using oil, add it also.

In a bowl, combine flour and buttermilk powder. Whisk to combine, add gently to bucket.

Make a small well on top of the dry ingredients, add yeast.

If using butter, cut into four chunks and drop one in each corner of bucket on top of dry ingredients.

Plug in bread machine.

Bread machine settings:
  • Whole Wheat (not rapid). Display will show 3:27.

  • 1.5 lb loaf

  • Light crust
De-pan bread to a cooling rack as soon as possible after timer goes off. Paint top with melted butter or oil to keep crust soft (optional). Let cool to room temperature on rack before slicing.

I've only had this recipe fail a couple of times, and that was when instead of using the fresh-ground whole wheat flour from the fancy-pants grocery, I opened a bag of whole wheat flour I'd had in the pantry a little past (OK, 6 months past) the 'best by' date. We had three loaves fail before I figured it out. They just didn't rise properly. They might have even risen and collapsed. That was the first time I'd experienced such a visual demonstration of what happens when you use old flour and I won't make that mistake again!

Some random bread tips:
  • I love using the buttermilk powder for baking! I keep the little cardboard canister in the fridge and it's always there when I need it.

  • I keep my yeast in an airtight container in the freezer. I bought a one pound bag over a year ago and it's still going strong. I test it every few months just to be sure it's still active.

  • I've found that the SAF brand yeast seems to make better-tasting bread than the Fleischmann's, but YMMV.

  • I use an electric knife to slice my bread. It's the only way I can even hope to slice it thin enough.

  • As soon as it's sliced, I bag the loaf in a resealable plastic bag, suck out excess air, and freeze it.
Yep, I freeze my sandwich bread. It's the only way I've found to keep homemade bread fresh past a day or two. We just pop out the slices we need and either toast them or nuke in the microwave for 10 seconds or so. If you are opposed to nuking, you could put them in a plastic bag and let them thaw on the counter.

I bought my bread machine at a silent auction and it sat in a closet for two years. I am now in love with it and can't imagine making sandwich bread without it. Heck, if it dies I might actually go pay full price for a new one!

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