I am not a planner. My best ideas usually come to me only after I actually begin a task. That's the way it has always been and it usually works for me, whether I am working, writing a blog post, or ...baking bread.
My sandwich bread Perfect Sandwich Bread, which is part whole-wheat, has been one of my go-to bread recipes for months now. It takes less than 15 minutes to put together the dough and once that's done all I have to do is nurse it through two rises and bake it into two fabulous loaves we can eat all week long.
I've often thought of converting the recipe to an all-wheat, high-protein bread richer in dietary fiber, but while I've baked enough wholegrain breads in the past, I have never been satisfied with the texture of an all-wheat sandwich bread which, in my book, needs to be at the same time soft and chewy and light and airy but firm enough to hold whatever you want to slather and smear on it.
This past Sunday, as I started mixing up the water and the yeast to make my usual loaves, my lazy brain cells blinked out of hibernation for just a minute to suggest: what if...?
I ran with the thought and ended up with this fabulous, whole wheat high protein sandwich bread. My original sandwich bread recipe calls for two cups of whole-wheat flour and two cups of all-purpose. For this whole-wheat recipe I replaced the two cups of all-purpose with one cup whole-wheat flour and one cup of vital wheat gluten flour. This immediately punched up both the fiber and protein content, because vital wheat gluten flour is almost 75 percent protein.
For those unfamiliar with vital wheat gluten, this is a natural protein found in wheat and it is especially valuable in baking wholegrain breads because it helps them build structure-- in simpler words, it helps them rise. I've explained the role of gluten in bread-baking and the gluten content of various kinds of flours in this old post on my Whole-wheat French Bread. But to do a quick recap, here's the reason whole wheat bread doesn't rise as well as a bread made with all-purpose flour or bread flour: gluten occurs in the grain's endosperm and all-purpose and bread flours are made by milling the endosperm which automatically gives them a high gluten content. Whole-wheat flour contains not just the endosperm but also the wheat germ and bran which are the outer coatings of the wheat kernel and are devoid of gluten. Since ounce for ounce whole-wheat flour has less milled endosperm in it than more refined flours do, it has a lower gluten content. Simple enough?
I know some of my readers who are outside the United States don't easily find wheat gluten flour where they live: I'd advise, in that case, to just continue using half whole-wheat and half all-purpose or bread flour to get a really delicious loaf.
If you're wondering after looking at the pictures why my two high protein sandwich bread loaves are different-sized, it's because I've got two different sized loaf pans: one's wider and squatter, and the other one's taller and slimmer. Both bake up delicious breads, though. 🙂
Looking for more bread recipes?
High Protein Sandwich Bread recipe:
High-Protein Sandwich Bread
- 4 tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ cup water (warm)
- 1 cup nondairy milk (warm)
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (use sugar or agave nectar if you'd rather)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- Mix the yeast and the warm water in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. In another bowl, mix the warm soymilk, water, oil, maple syrup, and salt.
- Add the soymilk mixture to the yeast. Then add 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour and mix on low speed or by hand.
- Add 1 to 1 ½ cups of the whole wheat flour and continue to knead, adding a more flour if needed, 2 tbsp at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Continue kneading for another 10 minutes. You should have a really smooth, supple dough.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning once so the top of the dough is coated with oil.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until doubled in volume.
- Now punch down the dough, and put it back in the bowl to rise for another hour.
- Grease and flour two standard (6-cup) loaf pans. Now punch the dough down again and divide it into half. Shape each half into an oval, tucking the seams underneath.
- Place each oval into a loaf pan, cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise for about 90 minutes until the dough rises above the pan, forming a nice dome.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 30 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
- Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes, then remove the loaves from the pan and continue cooling.