Alex is the bread baker in our household. He’ll swear to you that the smell of fresh baked bread makes all the planning, mixing, and waiting worth the while. This loaf he created as an everyday sandwich bread: nutty and moist, it’s full of fiber and whole grains and doesn’t contain the preservatives that keep store-bought bread shelf stable. As with our pizza dough and Crusty Multigrain Artisan Bread, the rhythm of baking takes some practice but becomes more intuitive with time.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2½ cups warm water
- 1½ tablespoons instant yeast*
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup rye flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- Mix and knead the dough (15 minutes): In a large bowl, combine the honey, melted butter, warm water, yeast, and kosher salt, and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the whole wheat flour, bread flour, rye flour, and oats to the bowl and stir again until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured countertop.
- Using your hands, start to form the dough into a ball. At first it will be rather floury, then after about 30 seconds it will become quite sticky. Resist the urge to add too much extra flour unless the stickiness is unbearable. Knead the dough by repeatedly pushing it with the base of your palm; continue kneading for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Let the dough rise (2 to 3 hours): Return the dough to the bowl and cover it with a clean dish towel. Allow the dough to stand in a warm place until it rises to double its size, about 1 to 2 hours.
- Once the dough has risen, grease two standard-sized loaf pans with oil or butter. Turn the dough onto a counter and divide it into two equal parts. Gently press each dough into a large rectangle about ½-inch thick. The short side of each rectangle should be about the same length as the long edge of the loaf pan.
- Starting from the short side of the rectangle, gently roll the dough into a log, then place it into the pan seam-side down. Gently press the dough to fill the bottom of the pan. Repeat for the second loaf. Score the top of the loaves multiple times with a sharp knife and sprinkle them with oats, then gently press the oats into the top of the bread. Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rest for 45 minutes.
- Bake the bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the pans once for an even bake. At 25 minutes, spray the tops of the loaves evenly with water using a spray bottle, which makes for a dark and hard crust. The loaves are done when they sound hollow when tapped, or the inside of the bread measures 190°F on a thermometer. Allow to cool several minutes in the pans, then remove the loaves from the pans and allow them to finish cooling on a rack before eating, at least 30 minutes.