Organic Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread with Oats and Pecans

Mildly sweet and slightly crunchy, our version of whole wheat oatmeal bread is great for tuna sandwiches. Cut in thick slices, it's perfect[ for French toast. Shape it into rolls for a dinner party or a family picnic. For variety, add one and a half cups (seven and a half ounces) of golden raisins to the dough and shape half of it into twists; crusty and delicious, they're good for breakfast-on-the-go and afternoon snacks. This versatile bread is sure to become one of your favorites.]

Total Time:
7 hr 20 min
Prep:
6 hr 30 min
Cook:
50 min

Level:
Easy

CATEGORIES
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) very warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 3 3/4 cups, or more if necessary (18 1/2 ounces) organic whole wheat flour
  • 2 3/4 cups (12 1/2 ounces) organic unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (6 ounces) organic old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) Sponge Starter
  • 2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) cool water ( 75 degrees F)
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) honey
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces ) molasses
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) Canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) pecan pieces, toasted
  • Additional rolled oats for topping
  • Two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans, oiled
Directions

Place the yeast and warm water in a large bowl and stir with a fork to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for about 3 minutes.

Whisk the whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, oats, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Add the sponge starter, cool water, honey, molasses, and oil to the yeast mixture. Mix with your fingers for 1 to 2 minutes, just long enough to break up the sponge (the mixture should look milky and be slightly foamy). Add the flour mixture to the bowl and stir with your fingers to incorporate the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl and folding the dough over itself until it gathers into a shaggy mass. Don't be concerned if the dough feels very sticky at this point.

Lightly flour a work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, until it becomes compact and elastic. It should be very moist but not mushy. If it feels too stiff to knead, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you have a soft, malleable dough. If it's sloppy wet and impossible to knead, add another 1/4 to 1/3 cup (1 1/4 to 1 2/3 ounces) of whole wheat flour. Shape the dough into a loose ball and let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, on the lightly floured work surface for 20 minutes. (This rest period is the autolyse.)

Flatten the dough and stretch it gently into a rectangle about an inch thick. Spread the pecans and raisins evenly over the dough. Fold the whole mass into an envelope and knead and fold it gently until the nuts are well distributed, about 2 to 3 minutes. If the dough resists, let it rest for 5 minutes and then continue kneading. Some of the nuts may pop out of the dough, but they can easily be incorporated again after the first rise, when the dough has softened.

Shape the dough into a loose ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl, along with any loose nuts. Turn the dough to coat the top with oil, and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature (75 to 77 degrees F) until it has doubled in volume, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (You can also refrigerate this dough overnight and shape it and bake it the next day: Let it rise for 1 hour at room temperature, or until it looks slightly puffy but not doubled, before refrigerating. The next day, let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature before shaping it.)

When the dough has doubled, loosen it from the bowl with lightly floured hands and gently pour it onto a floured work surface. Press any loose pecans into the dough and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a log. Spread the oats for topping on a flat plate or baking sheet. Use a pastry brush or a plant sprayer to lightly moisten the top of each log with water, then roll the tops of the loaves in the oats. Place each loaf seam side down in an oiled 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Cover them with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 2 hours, or until they have doubled in size (a finger pressed into the dough will leave an indentation).

Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a baking stone in the oven to preheat and place an empty water pan directly below the stone.

When the loaves have doubled, place the pans on the baking stone. Quickly pour 1 cup of very hot water into the water pan and immediately shut the door. After 1 minute, using a plant sprayer, mist the loaves quickly 6 to 8 times then shut the oven door. Repeat the misting procedure 1 minute later.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer, until the loaves sound slightly hollow when tipped out of the pan and tapped on the bottom. The sides and bottom of the loaf should feel firm and slightly crusty. If the tops are browned but the sides are still somewhat soft, place the loaves directly on the stone to bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer the loaves from the pans to a rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

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    Help? I am new at baking loaves of bread. Somewhere I killed the yeast - I am guessing. The sponge starter did well. But I only had rapid rise yeast. Could that have been where it fell? Or could I have killed it as it was a cold day and when I added additional water it may have been cold. I baked a brick as it never rose after putting it all together. The poor rating is probably the result of the baker.
    First, I was a little confused as to where the rasins came in because they were neither listed in the ingredients or the title and there is no indication as to how many to put in. In addition, because it is technically a "sandwhich" bread, I chose to leave them out anyhow. I might add them next time experiment with them for a yummy bread to make frech toast with.
     

     
    I was also wondering why they listed this as easy. I am NOT a first time bread maker by any means, but this recipe was much more involved than any other bread recipe I have ever used. For someone who has never made fresh bread or is a beginner, I wouldn't recommend this recipe right off the bat. In addition, working the pecans into the dough was much messier than I expected. I had nuts flying all over the place as I gently tried to fold them into the dough.
     

     
    My baking stone broke a while ago, so I had to improvise and just put the pans on a baking sheet and baked as instructed and the loaves turned out just right. This bread is absolutely DELICIOUS and the texture is a tiny bit heavier than other breads, but between the sponge starter (which I let age for two days), wheat flour and molasses, it had a wonderfully complex flavor that was just fantastic. Plus, this bread slices like a dream and I have already eaten 3 slices!!
     

     
    Despite this being very time consuming (2 days for me), know that I know what to expect, I would make these loaves again in a heart beat.
     

     
    Lastly, how on earth can some of these folks review a recipe without actually preparing the product?! Very confusing!!
    I've been looking for a sandwich bread that doesn't turn into a big pile of crumbs when eaten, and this turned out to be just what I was looking for! It did take a very long time to make, but there was relatively little work involved and pretty easy to make.
    This recipe was very yummy. Easy to make. I love it.
    I did not have time to make this in one day, so I spread it out over 3. For that reason, it seemed to take a long time to make! I left the raisins out. It is a very dense bread, but it is great! I really like it, I am not sure if I will make this again just because of the time it took. It did make two loaves, which makes the time it took a little more worth while.
    I loved this bread and will make it often. For those of you looking for Amy Sherber's sponge starter recipe go to http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_18232,00.html
    For any one who is new to baking bread , especially using a "sponge starter", this recipe should have included directions for making the sponge starter.
    For those of you looking for the recipe for sponge starter, you can find it on this site by searching recipes for "sponge starter and Scherber." I haven't tried it yet, but thought I would let you guys know where to look. Happy baking!
    I was all set to make this bread when I realized you did not include a recipe for the sponge starter. Where is it? Would it work if I used my Sour Dough starter???
    this recipe sounds so good but I do not know what to use so I can make it.PLEASE help!
    I found this recipe on the whole grains page and thought I'd give it a try. Little did I know that something so wholesome and with such simple ingredients could be so fabulous. I followed another reviewer's suggestion and used raisins...delicious!
    I love making homemade breads and this one sounds very good; however, what sponge starter am I using?
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