The name of Peter Reinhart's "Light Wheat Bread" is probably a misnomer. I think he meant that it was "light on the wheat," instead of being a whole wheat bread. Of course, the name implies that it is light in calories--or is not heavy in density. While there is nothing offensive caloriewise in this recipe, I have no idea if it's actually healthy or not. And this bread is far from a light and flaky, namby pamby loaf. This is dense, chewy, crusty sandwich bread. I just sat down with a lightly buttered piece, but am already imagining a higher purpose....say, roast beef and horseradish. We'll be enjoying it with a bowl of Greg's marvelous "West African Peanut Stew" tonight, and I am sure it will be nothing short of spectacular.
It's probably worth mentioning that this recipe comes together really easily. I would definitely recommend it for the beginner bread maker.
Light Wheat Bread (from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by, Peter Reinhart)
-2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (**I accidentally used 1 cup of AP flour before I realized the mistake. I think it might've helped, since the dough was super stiff anyway.**)
-1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
-1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar or honey
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-3 tablespoons powdered milk
-1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
-2 tablespoons shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
**NOTE for a beginner bread maker: If you only have "active dry yeast" and not instant yeast, you must proof the yeast. This means putting warm water (approximately 115 degrees--not room temperature!), yeast (and sugar if you want) together in a bowl, mixing, and letting sit for 5 minutes until bubbly. This is very important. The recipe only uses instant yeast, which is quite different. IF you use this method, do as described above, and then add it to the dry ingredients with the shortening/butter and honey (if using).
1. Stir together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, sugar (if using instead of honey), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Add the shortening/butter, honey (if using instead of sugar), and water. Stir (or mix on low speed with paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water. The dough should feel soft and supple. It's better for it to be a little too soft than stiff and tough.
2. Sprinkle flour on the counter. Transfer dough and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed in the stand mixer with a dough hook). Add more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Kneading should take about 10 minutes (6 by machine). Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
4. Remove the dough and press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4" thick, 6" wide, and 8-10" long. From the short end, roll it up tightly, stopping to pinch the seams together with every revolution. Don't shape or taper the ends. Place in a lightly oiled 8.5x4.5" loaf pan. Mist the top of the loaf with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
5. Proof at room temperature for approximately 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the top of the pan.
6. Preheat the oven to the 350 with the rack on the middle shelf.
7. Place the loaf pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking, and continue baking 15-30 more minutes, depending on your oven. The finished loaf should register 190-F degrees in the center, be golden brown on top and sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
8. When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2, before slicing and serving.
-Makes 1 loaf