The Cook’s Illustrated No Knead Bread method has been so consistently great, that I went in pursuit of the almost mythical great good everyday whole wheat sandwich bread. My charge was simple, replicate the whole wheat bread my wife and I consume regularly which is an oatey wheat sandwich loaf with sunflower seeds and wheat berries. Great in a sandwich or simply toasted.
I started with the basic Breadtopia Almost No Knead Sandwich Loaf (Wheat Version) below but with a few tweaks. This doesn’t involve baking in the dutch oven, but after a few attempts, its proven consistently good.
18 ounces (~3 2/3 cups) flour. I use 3 cups of white and 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour.
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill 5-Grain Mix
1 3/4 tsp salt (I use just a bit less)
3/8 tsp. instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) beer (non-alcoholic is ok)
1 1/4 Tbs white vinegar
2 1/2 Tbs honey
I combine all the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Then I usually dissolve the honey in either the beer or the water to make sure its distributed evenly throughout. Add the liquids and mix the dough together until all the ingredients are taken into the dough and you’re left with a bit of a shaggy ball. I usually use my hands until all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
I’m guessing the hands on first portion must be no more than about 15 minutes. Quicker as you get familiar with the recipe.
Place the bowl in a large bag or cover with cellophane and let rise for 24 hours. My favorite spot is on top of the refrigerator. I haven’t tried it using less time for the first rise, but I tend to make bread after work or at the end of the day and then plan on baking the next evening.
After the first rise, turn out on to a floured surface and knead about 10 times or so, folding and rotating gently. Form into a loaf and place in a standard bread pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spray the top of the loaf with cooking spray and place in a large cellophane bag. Let rise about two hours or until doubled. I use an olive oil spray.
It can’t take me more than 10 minutes to complete this step.
About 1-1.5 hours into the second rise depending on its progress, I start preheating the oven to 425 F. Just prior to placing in the oven, I make a slit down the entire length of the loaf in the middle about 1/2-3/4 inch deep. I’m always a bit cautious when scoring the loaf, but with this sandwich loaf, it seems the deeper the cut the more the top spreads and makes the ideal “rectangular” slice rather than having a high dome.
Immediately put the pan the in oven and reduce temperature to 350. Bake for about 55 minutes or until internal bread temperature is about 200 degrees.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. About an hour or so after the bread has almost completely cooled, I slice into sandwich sized slices with an electric knife.
As a result of this recipe, we no longer buy any sandwich bread and know exactly what we’re eating.