In a few months I’ve gone from not really understanding bread and not always succeeding at it to making my own recipe with a lot of success. My goal here was a half whole-wheat that is soft enough for sandwiches. The recipe makes two loaves and I guarantee the first one will be gone before the evening. If you start the bread about noon you will have it by dinner.
2 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 stick butter (or 8 tablespoons margarine, for a vegan loaf)
2 cups wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup extra-thick oats (or any kind of oats, really)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
Sprinkle yeast on top of water and allow to stand a bit, about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile melt butter over low heat. In a large bowl combine all the flour except one cup of the all-purpose, the oats, the sugar, the salt, and the gluten. Add to water and yeast; add butter. Set aside dry ingredients bowl for a minute. Stir the mixture and add flour if necessary until it clumps up. Use your last cup of flour to sprinkle on the surface and knead the dough five minutes (dough will be smooth but slightly stiff).
Grease the dry ingredient bowl and put the dough in; turn a couple times to coat. Cover with cloth and set aside for one to two hours until doubled.
After the first rise, punch down the dough, divide into two balls, and allow to rest about 20 minutes. Grease two loaf pans. Knead each loaf briefly, roll out into a rectangle as long as the loaf pan, and fold in thirds lengthwise. Pinch ends and seam together and place in pan, seam-side down. Cover with cloth and let rise a second time, again about one to two hours or until doubled.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush loaves with milk or a honey / melted butter mixture and bake about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before digging in. Store wrapped in cloth in the breadbox.