My usual, go-to bread is the french loaf, but I like to play around with different breads. My goal is to find a brown bread recipe that is just as soft and cushy as the bought loaves but without all those scary cushy-making chemicals.
I made this 100% whole wheat loaf a while ago, but it wasn't quite right - 100% whole wheat is a little intense for me. But neither was I interested in the 100% white loaf on which it was based. So I came to a delicious compromise:
2 c warm water
2/3 c sugar (yes it is a lot)
1.5 tbs yeast
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 c oil
3 c white flour
1 c oats
1 3/4 c wheat flour
1/4 c vital wheat gluten.
1. In a small bowl, mix water, sugar, and yeast together. Let the yeast foam - about 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of your mixer, mix all the flours and the salt and the oats.
3. Add the yeast mixture and the oil to the flour mixture and mix until combined. Then knead it until you get a cohesive dough that is smooth but not tough.
4. Let the dough rise, in a covered, greased bowl, for about an hour - until the dough has doubled.
5. Shape it into 2 loaves and let rest for about 30 minutes, or until the dough rises 1" above the greased loaf pans you put it into.
6. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Remember to let it cool before cutting! The gluten is still developing. :)
This loaf is as soft as store-bought but you can pronounce all the ingredients. It's really great for sandwiches and does really well in the toaster. It's slightly sweet tasting, so if you're not into that, you could omit some of the sugar, but if you don't add enough you won't get the squishy texture I was going for.