10 Minute 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
A common urban myth is that things break down in a landfill. They do not. Nothing breaks down in a landfill because it is sealed off from air and water and in fact, landfills are designed to keep their contents in a stable state to avoid contamination of ground water by leachates (the liquid biproduct of anaerobic deconomposition).
I’ve also seen memes floating around regarding how long plastic takes to break down in the environment, but the reality is that it only breaks down to tinier pieces of plastic. It never becomes something other than plastic, and we really don’t understand the implications of that in the food chain.
Recycling is also not really great for the environment because it takes a ton of energy and the markets for recycled plastics are not reliable.
Basically, plastic is forever and single use plastic is one of the worst types of waste we can create. Enter zero waste and buying food in bulk to avoid food packaging.
This created a conflict for me because my favorite breakfast for the past 300 years has been KIND granola. In those overpriced, over packaged pouches lay heaps of crunchy peanut buttery goodness waiting to come alive. I tried making it so many times, but every effort fell soggy.
Then I discovered this.
Sometimes zero wasting means sacrifice, but more often than not, the sacrifice ends up being better and it’s more like an anti-sacrifice. Or a, “why did no one tell me about this thing???? I’ve been eating cardboard!!!”
This is now why I get out of bed in the mornings. That and because my 20 month old is usually climbing on my face.
“But Debra,” you say, “you need to get out more!”
Looks are deceiving! Are you wondering what miracle of human innovation you’re looking at?
- 100% whole wheat bread made from home milled flour, toasted until the edges brown a little
- Peanut butter made from 100% peanuts (bye Jif!) that gets just a little melty on freshly toasted bread
- Organic strawberry preserves made with fair trade organic sugar (which tastes exactly the same as any other strawberry preserves, but we’re on a roll so why not).
But this post is really mostly about the bread.
How to mill your own flour
For a super long time I’ve been milling my own flour, which my friends mock me for because they think it’s over the top (but these are the same people who used family cloth before it was a thing so you can decide who’s weirder). Anyway, it’s a machine where you put wheat berries in the top and flour comes out the bottom. If you can operate a refrigerator you can mill flour.
Home ground flour is unlike any whole wheat flour you’ve ever experienced. It turns out that wheat germ is highly perishable after being milled since it has been taken out of its natural packaging, so to speak. This causes grocery store wheat to be bitter because it is stale or rancid or something. Home ground flour is sweet, and nothing like it’s stale, rancid counterpart.
I buy 50 lb bags of wheat berries (which are wheat seeds and not perishable at all) and mill them with my Nutrimill. There is also a KitchenAid attachment, but it has poor reviews on Amazon). You can buy wheat berries from some grocery stores or online from Honeyville. Hard red wheat is best for this recipe (this photo is white wheat – I ran out of red which is why I know red is better for sandwich bread).
If you don’t have or want a mill, that’s fine too, store bought flour will work but just won’t taste as yummy (or you could try King Arthur Flour for a higher quality experience). If you buy the flour, just be sure that home ground flour is on your bucket list somewhere.
Back to the bread
Basically the recipe works like this. You put the ingredients in the bowl and mix them (approximately 5 minutes). Then you wait and knead the bread (another five minutes). So there’s your active time. Maybe another five minutes for putting it in loaf pans, taking it in and out of the over and slicing it and whatever, but you’re talking 15 minutes max. The rest is waiting, and it’s totally worth it.
I did not expect myself to still be doing this several months after I started my very non-commital experiment. This is from someone who grew up on Velveeta shells and cheese. But I’m telling you store bought bread is like eating paper compared to this. One taste of this and there’s no going back. Plus, no singe use plastic bags! Bonus points for sourcing ingredients in bulk (hello Abundance!).
100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
10 minutes of active time (2-4 hours to rise), easy to slice, 100% whole wheat bread. This recipe is modified from King Arthur's sandwich bread recipe.
- 7 cups 100% whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 5 t instant yeast
- 1 T salt
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup honey, molasses or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup orange juice add as needed to moisten the dough and make the wheat flavor softer
Put all the ingredients in a bowl or mixer and mix together. If the dough is too dry, you can add orange juice until all the ingredients are incorporated into the dough (you may need more or less OJ than 1/4 cup).
Let the dough sit for 30 minutes to allow the whole wheat flour to absorb the moisture.
After 30 minutes, knead the dough for 5 minutes.
Pour oil on top to keep the dough from getting dried out, cover and allow to double in size (1-2 hours).
Divide the dough into two oiled bread pans and allow to rise until doubled in size (another 1-2 hours).
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
Once the bread has cooled, I slice it and store it in the freezer. Fresh bread does not keep well at room temperature because it doesn't contain any preservatives. Note that you really want to let the knife do the slicing and not push on the bread at all.
Starting on this homemade bread kick has gotten me thinking about the role marketing has played in moving us away from whole food as a culture. Who told me Velveeta was better than homemade mac and cheese? TV commercials! Who told me store bought bread was better than homemade? Grocery stores! Recently more of my time has been devoted to making and eating better food. And some of it – like yogurt and bread, are just not very much work at all.
So here’s to whole food and knowing what we’re putting in our bodies! Also to melty peanut butter and strawberry preserves.