Labor Day weekend was a never ending festival of potlucks. We went to three potlucks in two days! The first was at a board games party I helped run, and I invited several of my daughter’s friends over to make gaming munchies. They chose to make 20-sided dice cookies and rulebook s’mores from the Nerdy Nummies cookbook by Rosanna Pansino, and that was a big hit at the party (I also made Swedish meatballs with cream sauce, see last week’s recipe). For the Labor day brunch, I made a nice frittata with green onions, garlic scapes, king oyster mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, potatoes, eggs, manchego cheese and red peppers on top. For the Labor Day barbeque, I brought marinated beef kabobs and veggie kabobs, yum.

But out of all these, someone asked me for the recipe for a loaf of whole wheat bread I brought to the brunch. I make bread all the time. I’ve made seven loaves of bread in the past five days. We’ve had a lot of kids over, since school hadn’t started yet, and they just inhaled all that bread with butter and jam and Nutella. I brought two loaves of white bread to the gaming party with some funky pumpkin seed butter and Nutella-ish dark chocolate sunflower seed butter, and those also disappeared right quick. But I’m trying to make healthier breads for my family, and this particular recipe is a hit. I found it in my favorite bread-making book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois, and they in turn had modified the recipe from one by Chris Kimball which appeared in Cook’s Magazine in turn, and in that tradition, I modified it a bit as well. So, Andrew, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Sandwich Breadwholewheatbread-large

Makes two loaves in 9x4x3″ loaf pans

3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup rye flour
1/2 cup wheat gluten
3 cups white whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Neutral-tasting oil for greasing the pans (I use canola spray)

Mix the yeast, salt, honey, and butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook – I use one of these). if you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last of the flour. Alternatively, if you live in a moist climate or are baking on a rainy day, you may need to add extra flour. If you add a cup or more of extra flour, add another 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt. The dough should be firm and smooth, pulling away from the wall of the bowl, but not dry.

Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, approximately 2 hours. You can refrigerate the dough and use it later, but who has the patience for that??? Assuming you’re planning ahead for a meal, you can store the dough in the fridge, lidded but not airtight, for up to 5 days.

Lightly grease the loaf pans. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut it in half. Gluten-cloak each loaf by shaping it into a ball and stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball one-quarter turn as you go. Form it into an elongated loaf, lay it in the loaf pan, repeat with the remaining dough, and let rise for 40 minutes. (If you refrigerated the dough, you’ll need to let the dough rise for 1 hour 40 minutes.) Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400 degF.

Place the loaves on a center rack in the oven. If you want crustier bread, add a broiler tray and pour 1 cup of hot water into it. If you want a softer crust, as my kids prefer, brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter before putting them in the oven and after they are done baking. Bake for about 50 minutes or until browned and a bit hollow-sounding when you knock on them.

Here’s the hardest part: allow to cool before slicing or eating. 😉 Enjoy!