[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Ideas and methods for making the perfect sandwiches at residence.
I adore all the pieces about complete wheat bread, from its hearty texture and graham-like taste to the overall aura of advantage that comes with making something from complete grains.
When ordering out, it is my favourite aspect for sopping up runny yolks on a breakfast plate, my final sandwich bread. And assuming there’s loads of butter and jam, the right accompaniment to a easy mug of espresso.
Complete wheat bread has an unlucky repute for turning out heavy and dense at residence. It could have a texture that is inclined to ripping or crumbling aside, particularly when sliced skinny for sandwiches.
These attributes are sometimes recognized as an inescapable actuality of 100% complete wheat formulation, because the inclusion of wheat bran and germ can intrude with correct gluten improvement, leading to a poorly risen, too-tender loaf that lacks the construction and chewiness of a traditional white bread.
In consequence, an awesome variety of recipes for “complete wheat” bread will truly embrace a great deal of white bread flour, typically 50%. This improves a typical loaf’s chewiness and rise, however it additionally dilutes the attribute taste and diet of complete wheat.
That does not imply it is not possible to make a fluffy, well-structured complete wheat loaf that is high-rising and chewy. It simply means you may want a barely completely different method than the one you see in run-of-the-mill recipes—one which includes a bit extra time, energy, and water.
Step 1: Begin With an Autolyse
The primary key step for my complete wheat bread is to begin with an autolyse. With this method, bakers mix the flour and water up entrance after which enable the combination to relaxation for some size of time earlier than kneading.
This ready interval kicks off the enzymatic breakdown of starch, whereas giving the gliadin and glutenin proteins within the flour time to hydrate and mingle, forming gluten.
It isn’t an thrilling course of to behold, however it does some wonderful issues for the dough by fostering gluten formation previous to the gluten improvement achieved via kneading.
An autolyse may be useful for a lot of forms of bread, particularly in a business setting, however it’s significantly helpful at residence for doughs that wrestle to realize adequate gluten improvement within the first place, like complete wheat bread.
What’s extra, this hydration interval softens the bran and germ within the dough, resulting in a lighter, softer loaf.
The timing of an autolyse will differ from recipe to recipe, with some as brief as a couple of minutes and others lasting in a single day, however after testing a dozen or extra intervals for this loaf, I used to be happiest with a two-and-a-half-hour autolyse (you may see a few of my testing pictures on Instagram). There’s undoubtedly some wiggle room if you happen to want a purchase a little bit of time or transfer issues alongside, however substantial deviations can result in suboptimal outcomes.
Step 2: Develop Gluten
Even with an autolyse, gluten improvement may be troublesome in a 100% complete wheat dough. Every time I am confronted with a difficult dough that wants plenty of construction (like superchewy bagels, for instance), I escape my meals processor.
In terms of intensive gluten improvement, meals processors can do close to miraculous work. After including some brown sugar, salt, and yeast, the meals processor is ready to take my 100% complete wheat dough from a gnarly blob to a robust and satiny dough in simply 75 seconds, with none danger of oxidation or overheating of the dough and with little danger of overheating or burning out the machine’s motor (which is extra frequent with sure manufacturers of small however colourful stand mixers with plastic gears).
After processing, the dough could have sufficient gluten improvement to tug a small piece right into a translucent sheet or, in baker-speak, a windowpane. With a 100% complete wheat dough, this stage of gluten improvement may be very troublesome to realize by hand and even in a stand mixer.
Which is to say the meals processor is not an non-obligatory shortcut for this dough however a significant device. For this recipe, I used each the 14-cup Cuisinart at our check kitchen and my 16-cup Breville Sous Chef with out incident, however for smaller machines, will probably be essential to course of the dough in phases (see our meals processor gear overview for more information on our really helpful fashions).

Step 3: Divide and Conquer
Complete wheat dough sometimes requires extra hydration than white bread because of the wheat bran’s absorbency. However once I gave the dough all of the water it wanted up-front with the autolyse, it was too sticky and moist for my meals processor.
I used to be in a position to sidestep the issue by reserving a small portion of water to include after creating the gluten. Including the water in two phases allowed for ample hydration throughout the autolyse, producing a dough with sufficient construction for the meals processor to deal with, whereas making a smooth and elastic dough that bakes up chewy, moist, and lightweight.
Together with this second addition of water, I additionally add a splash of oil. This likewise retains the dough from turning sticky early on, however its inclusion improves the flavour, texture, and shelf lifetime of the completed loaf. Clear, impartial oils like safflower work effectively, or you may add one other layer of nutty taste with choices like toasted pumpkin seed oil or toasted pecan oil.
After including the water and oil, the dough is processed till easy after which transferred to a evenly greased bowl for the primary rise. At this stage, it ought to really feel sticky, moist, and elastic, very in contrast to a typical complete wheat dough.
As with every bread, timing the primary rise will depend upon the dough and setting, as “room temperature” can vary from effectively under 65°F (18°C) to above 85°F (29°C), relying on the season. However in an roughly 70°F (21°C) setting, count on issues to take about two hours. Or, if desired, the dough may be refrigerated to considerably sluggish issues down.
Nonetheless the timing works out, when the dough has roughly doubled in quantity, flip it out onto a clear floor that is been evenly dusted with complete wheat flour.
I type the loaf by folding the dough in thirds, utilizing the heel of my hand to seal the dough towards itself to type a good roll. From there, I switch it to a well-greased one-pound loaf pan (this tapered fashion will measure nine-by-five inches on the high and eight-by-four inches on the backside).
I loosely cowl the dough with plastic and proof till it is effectively risen and lightweight however resilient, in a position to slowly spring again from a delicate poke. If the dough feels dense and agency and resists taking an impression when poked with a finger, I let it proceed to rise.
As with the primary rise, this course of will transfer quicker or slower relying on environmental circumstances, however count on about 75 minutes at 70°F. Hold a detailed eye on the dough at this stage, checking it ceaselessly to keep away from overproofing (letting it puff up a lot that it begins to lose construction).
After the second rise, bake the loaf till it is effectively risen and golden brown, giving up a hole sound when thumped. This could take about 45 minutes at 350°F (177°C) or till the loaf reaches an inside temperature simply over 200°F (93°C).
Instantly de-pan the loaf, and let it cool utterly on a wire rack. Whereas heat, the loaf will probably be fragile and simply compressed, with a gummy texture.
As soon as cool, nevertheless, will probably be sturdy and lightweight, chewy and smooth, crisp across the edges and moist in center. As a result of it is so effectively structured, it may be thinly sliced for sandwiches as long as you have got a skinny, serrated knife with sharp tooth (a thick, boring blade will solely smoosh the loaf).
Daniel has completed an intensive overview of the perfect serrated knives up to now; his favourite (and mine!) is the 10-inch Tojiro Bread Slicer, which makes lovely slices of any loaf.

Because of an autolyse, a meals processor, and a two-pronged method for including the water and oil, this 100% complete wheat bread bakes up chewy, moist, and lightweight, with a smooth crumb and marvelous endurance (it’s going to hold for per week at room temperature in a paper bag or bread field).
It will not be the quickest recipe round, however it’s one that may nonetheless be knocked out in lower than eight hours, with little or no hands-on consideration—the right loaf for puttering across the kitchen on a lazy Sunday.

This put up might comprise hyperlinks to Amazon or different companions; your purchases through these hyperlinks can profit Critical Eats. Learn extra about our affiliate linking coverage.