In week # 18 of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, we encounter Light Wheat Bread. I was not exactly excited to make this bread. Frankly, it looked a little boring. Plus, every other bread we have baked from this book has been accompanied by a jaw dropping photo. This bread had no photo. Even Peter Reinhart’s description of this bread left me feeling blah. “The result is a loaf similar to the soft wheat breads purchased off the shelves.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.
However, other BBA challengers were effusive in their praise for this bread.
Mags of The Other Side of 50 said, “The whole grains geek in me loved this recipe! I made sandwich buns instead of a loaf. Great tasting and such an easy recipe.”
Sally of Bewitching Kitchen said, “I have made this bread many many times, it is a winner for sure!”
Phyl of Cabbages and Kings said, “This was a delicious, light sandwich bread. And great for toast, too.”
So maybe I was judging this bread prematurely. Is it possible that after only 18 weeks, I have become a bread snob? So, I took a leap of faith and went into the challenge hoping for the best. This light wheat bread contains about 1/3 whole wheat flour, and 2/3 white bread flour. The remaining ingredients include honey, salt, powdered milk, yeast, butter and water.
The dough came together very easily. I kneaded the dough by hand as I am still without my Kitchen Aid.
After about 10 minutes of hand kneading the dough was ready for primary fermentation. My kitchen was very warm and it doubled in size in about 90 minutes.
To shape the dough into a loaf, the dough is pressed into a rectangle about 6 inches wide and 8 inches long.
Then it is rolled into a loaf and the seams are pinched shut.
The loaf gets placed in a lightly oiled 8 x 4 inch pan and is covered with plastic wrap and left to proof just until the dough crests above the lip of the pan. Peter Reinhart estimates that will take about 90 minutes. I went to work out and when I came back 60 minutes later my loaf had totally overproofed.
Whoops, a little more than just cresting over the lip of the pan. I must keep reminding myself that baking is more art than science and these recipes are guidelines only. So many variants can alter yeast! I popped the loaf into the oven and baked it for about 40 minutes, until it registered 190 degrees in the center, using my instant read thermometer. I love using the instant read thermometer to guage when bread is done. I never could get the hang of telling if it was done by thumping on the loaf and listening for a hollow sound.
After about 2 hours I sliced into it and tasted. The verdict….It was ok. Light and fluffy with a slight chew to the crumb. This bread was very similar to what I can buy from the in-store bakery at my local supermarket. It is unlikely that I will make this loaf again as there are so many other exciting breads out there calling my name and so little time. However, in it’s defence, I will say that this bread makes excellent grilled cheese sandwiches, which is how the majority of this loaf was used.