Bread Baker: Buttermilk Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I’m heading to a conference this coming weekend (more on that later this week) and I’m starting to prepare my wife for my absence. Today’s project was to bake enough sandwich bread for her so she can make lunch (and probably dinner) when I’m gone.

I also had half a carton of buttermilk in the fridge that I wanted to finish. I went looking for whole wheat sandwich bread recipes that used buttermilk and came across one that was published in Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads. I was curious to try it since it used baking powder as well as yeast, and only required one rise, instead of two.

While the original recipe said the total elapsed rising time would be reduced to under one hour, I found it took longer for the bread to be ready to be baked – a little more than two hours.

I might not have saved any time, but the bread was delicious – by far one of the best sandwich breads I’ve made. The bread is delicate, with almost a creamy consistency thanks to the buttermilk. This bread will work just as well with either jam or lunchmeat. With two loaves, my wife should be well equipped with bread until I return.


  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk, brought to room temperature
  • 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) bread flour, plus up to 1/2 cup more
  • 3 cups (15 ounce) white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup shortening, brought to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Step 1. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the water and buttermilk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, shortening, brown sugar, baking powder and salt, plus 1 cup of bread flour and 1 cup of white whole wheat flour. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients, then mix to combine.

Step 2. Half a cup at a time, add the remaining whole wheat flour. The dough should be fairly dry and sticky. Let the dough sit for 5 minutes before starting to knead.



Step 3. Knead for about 8 minutes with an electric mixer. After I kneaded my bread for a few minutes I saw it was a little too sticky, so I added 1/4 cup more of bread flour.

Step 4. After the dough has been thoroughly kneaded, deposit it onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, shape them into tight ovals, and let them sit for 5 minutes.


Step 5. Press the dough balls into two greased 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 loaf pans. Let the dough rise until it has crested at least 1 inch above the pan rim. Before the loaves have finished rising, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Step 6. Bake 25-30 minutes, until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. Remove the loaves from their pans and cool on a wire rack.


  • KeriAnne Zimmerman

    Mmmmm… that looks delicious! Too bad it’s too dang hot to bake!

  • Walter

    I don’t know if Mr. Clayton states so in his recipe, but do you happen to know why the bread is intended for only a single rise?

    Is it just to have a relatively fast sandwich bread from start to finish, or is there another reason?

    I would think the crumb would be improved by a second rise, though I don’t often bake breads high in whole wheat flour.

    Is the baking soda and lack of a second rise a trick to get a light texture and airy crumb out of a mostly whole wheat dough?

    • Mark Evitt

      The baking soda is supposed to make up for the second rise. I want to do some more experimenting with single-rise breads …

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