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Whole-wheat sandwich bread: no eggs, no dairy. Possible?

I may be on a fool's errand, but I am determined to replicate a local bakery's honey whole wheat sandwich loaf.

Their ingredients are simple. Maybe too simple. Organic whole wheat flour, honey, salt, water, yeast. No eggs. No milk. No butter or oil. Yet the finished loaf is high, sweet, soft-crusted and flavorful. Keeps pretty well too, if tightly wrapped. The texture is just a bit crumbly and the rich, mellow wheat taste really comes through, but there's absolutely no sourdough tang.

I've tried to recreate it at home, mostly by omitting eggs, butter, milk and other ingredients from basic (no poolish or starter, basic ingredients/knead/rest/repeat approach) sandwich bread recipes I've found, mostly on the King Arthur site. The results have not been great: flattish, heavy loaves that tend to have a bitter/unpleasantly sour taste and overly thick crusts; my research keeps uncovering advice that suggests adding milk/fat/eggs for taste, rise, texture, etc. assistance. I'm sure that would help, but I'm determined to work out the purist recipe.

Any ideas? Is there a way to do a sponge or starter that won't result in a tangy taste? For what it's worth, I've been using KA white-wheat flour, good clover honey, water that's not too hot and not too cold, table salt, and Fleischmann's active dry yeast.

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  1. Hi lobsterfest, I have tried the Flax Bread Without Yeast, Gluten, Sugar or Dairy but it does require soy milk to it.This is how u do it,

    # Preheat oven to 180°C or 350°F Grease a small loaf pan (about 4" x 7" or 10cm x 18cm).
    Mix together the flax meal, buckwheat flour, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda and xanthan gum. The xanthan gum gives it a bit better texture, but could be eliminated.
    In a separate bowl add the oil, soy milk and lemon juice together.
    Once the oven is to temperature, mix the wet and dry ingredients together, put in the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. (The lemon juice acts with the baking powder, and it's best to mix it, then go right into the oven.).
    Bake for 35-40 minutes.

    And do let me know how it turned out. :-)

    1. It might help to knead the dough for longer than you're used to doing, in order to develop the gluten.

      1. KA sells a "dough improver," which is something that is supposed to help with lift.

        1. Are you sure there's not even a little oil? If you put a little oil (even just a little nonstick spray) on top of the bread, it will make the crusts much softer and thinner.

          1. It seems they are using more honey than you are. You say the loaf is sweet. Lots of honey will create a more open crumb. They are probably also using more water and more yeast.

            They are also probably oiling their pans a bit, just not adding oil directly to the dough, though you could verify that.

            Also, they might be using white winter whole wheat, which is less tannic than red whole wheat.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Karl S

              I agree with your suggestions of more honey and possibly adding a bit of K-A white whole wheat flour to lighten the color and texture. I tend to use very long slow fermentations but that does give more yeast flavor that Badsha may not enjoy.

            2. How much of each ingredient are you using? How long are you kneading for? How long are you letting it rise for? We need more details...

              1. Check out Rose Levy Beranbaum's site realbakingwithrose. She's the author of "The Bread Bible". She's developed a whole wheat loaf that might be similar to what you want. Search for whole wheat on her site.

                1 Reply
                1. re: fran124

                  This is cheating a bit, but soy lecithin is a nice additive to whole grain breads--moistens it up, keeps better, etc. I use about 1TB per 3 cups of flour or so. Adding gluten (or using a high-gluten whole wheat flour) also helps with lift--the little bran flakes supposedly cut up the gluten strands, leading to heavy bread. I use between 1 and 2 TB per 3 cups of flour. Or you can pull out all the stops and use both! Some flours (and doughs) seem to have more extensible gluten than others, and that also helps.

                  I also agree that having the dough as moist as possible is key. If it is not creating a foul, sticky, mess it is probably too dry. One thing that professional bakers can do that I can't is handle and shape a really moist dough...

                2. I'm no help with the bread dough per se, but if you will look on the KitchenAid site and browse through the baking and bread forums, you could ask your question there. Many of the posters are outstanding bakers, some are professional, and someone might have an idea for you