Earth Day (April 22) is quickly approaching. Earth Day is a day for us to appreciate and strive towards improving the Earth’s environment. It’s also a reminder of all the damage that we have done to the environment around us. Much of this damage is caused by plastic and Styrofoam fast-food containers. If everyone in the United States eliminated one fast-food lunch a week, imagine all of the waste that would be prevented! And if instead of picking up drive-thru meals, people packed sandwiches—in reusable containers, of course—their waistlines, their wallets, and the environment would all benefit.
To me, Earth Day isn’t just about preventing and correcting the damage we do to our planet—it’s also about getting back to the basics. That’s why, in preparation for Earth Day, I’m sharing a recipe for homemade sandwich bread. In today’s busy society, many of us have rejected the idea of baking bread at home in favor of the plastic-wrapped loaves that are readily available on grocery store shelves.
Because making yeast bread is a foreign concept to so many people, I’m sharing an almost foolproof recipe for a white wheat sandwich bread. This bread is made mostly of all-purpose flour, but it has some wheat germ mixed in for extra fiber and nutrients. It’s heartier than store-bought white bread, and is delicious when toasted and topped with egg salad.
White wheat bread
2 cups water
2/3 cup nonfat powdered milk *
3 TBSP butter
3/4 TBSP salt
2-1/2 TBSP honey
2 TBSP yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 cup wheat germ
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
Step 1: In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 2 cups water and powdered milk.
Step 2: Add salt and 2 TBSP honey to milk.
Step 3: Heat milk mixture to the scalding point.
Step 4: Remove milk mixture from heat and add butter.
Step 5: Stir until butter is melted.
Step 6: Pour milk into mixing bowl and let it cool until it’s lukewarm. **
Step 7: Combine 1/3 cup lukewarm water, 1/2 TBSP honey, and yeast in a bowl. Let sit for a 3 or 4 minutes.
Step 8: Add yeast mixture to milk mixture in mixing bowl.
Step 9: Add wheat germ and about 2-1/2 cups flour.
Step 10: Using dough hook, stir mixture until it is smooth, using a rubber spatula to scrape down sides as needed.
Step 11: Add more flour and keep stirring until dough is stiff.
Step 12: Continue kneading dough with the dough hook for about 5 minutes, or until dough is very smooth and elastic.
Step 13: Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, flipping the dough over once so the top of the dough is oiled. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel.
Step 14: Leave dough in a warm place to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Step 15: Punch down dough, then cover and let it rise for another 45 minutes to an hour.
Step 16: On a lightly floured surface, knead dough by hand a few times, and then press out the dough into an oblong or rectangle.
Step 17: Shape dough into two loaves (starting at one end, roll the dough tightly towards the other end and seal by pinching ends together.)
Step 18: Place loaves in oiled baking pans, and cover. Let rise for about 45 minutes.
Step 19: Place a large baking dish in the bottom of oven, and fill with 1 inch of water. Place rack in the center of the oven, above this baking dish.
Step 20: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Step 21: Place loaf pans on oven rack above water dish.
Step 22: Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until loaves are golden brown.
Step 23: Remove bread from oven and from loaf pans, and cool on a wire rack.
Step 24: Let bread cool completely (if you can resist the temptation of fresh bread!) before slicing.
* 2 cups of regular milk can be used in place of the powdered milk and water, but powdered milk is much more economical for baking.
** The mixture must be lukewarm. If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast.