Yes, I feel that I strayed from the purist position of flour, water, yeast and salt that I prefer. But there was some familial demand for an easily slice-able sandwich bread. Due to low expectations, I only took pictures after baking. [The photographs of the dough development were taken when I made this bread again.]
With slight, but significant variations, both breads used the Grammy sandwich bread recipe from the Art of Baking with Natural Yeast. The recipe calls for coconut oil and optional honey, which I left out of bread #31 and added to the dough for bread #32. I changed the timing for the recipe as my very warm, DC-area summer kitchen completely changes the equation for rising duration coming from recipes that imagine 65 or 70-degree temperatures.
Spoiler alert: Bread #31 was less than mediocre, while bread #32 was sublime. At the end of this post is a mention of the controversy over coconut oil.
Ingredients and instructions
10 oz. water
12.65 oz. whole wheat or white whole wheat flour (used the latter in bread #32)
Mix, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes. [Photo: At the end of the 20-minute autolyse.]
Add to autolyse:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 cup = 1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp starter for bread #31 - 3.5 oz. starter for bread #32 (will explain briefly later)
1 tsp salt
Just put ingredients in order on top of autolyse, except for the salt. I put the salt in last, only after partially mixing, so that the dough would get a little more time before the salt affected the yeast development.
Mixing and kneading
Leave about 10 minutes for mixing by hand as the autolyse takes more strength to mix than a regular dough. Cover the dough and let rest for 10 minutes before kneading. This was added to bread #32 after reading a different book, which will likely be discussed at another time. It is Wild Sourdough. [Photo taken just after the dough is kneaded.]
The dough is gloppy, gloopy and feels a little oily as well from the coconut oil. Knead for 10 minutes or until the windowpane test is satisfied. Wet your hands and the counter a bit. For hand kneading, the dough scraper will be necessary. Be prepared for a mess.
Due to timing demands so that I would get the bread baked within one day of beginning, I greatly upped the starter content for the second try of this bread. The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup. I tried for an overnight rise the first time with 1 tablespoon of starter and an afternoon bread baking for the second attempt with 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams).
1 tablespoon of starter - 10.25 hours of rising. The overnight rising does not work so well during the summer, when the 15 to 20-degree (Farenheit) difference in temperature dramatically decreases the rising time. Even with using just a fraction of the recommended amount of starter culture, I find I should decrease the starter amount further to get a 10 to 12-hour first rise.
3.5 ounces (about 100 grams) - 3.5 hours of rising, which was perfect
At two hours, just a few bubbles. [Photo to the left on top was taken at two hours. Bubbles must be looked for.]
At three hours, the dough had doubled in volume, though the bubbles were not as apparent as they had been at two and a half hours. [Photo to the left on bottom was taken at three hours. There are more bubbles, with some large and almost bursting.]
At three and a half hours, I was getting anxious about over-rising.
I will skip bread #31 on this and head straight to bread #32. I only did a shaping taking the corners and folding in. Then I did a few swift rounding motions on the counter. I sprayed a loaf pan with non-stick baking spray and put the dough in the pan to rise, covered with plastic.
Recommended rising time was two to two and a half hours, with the suggestion that the dough is sufficiently risen when a poke does not immediately bounce back. Both times, mine seemed ready at two hours. For bread #32, the dough rose remarkably in the loaf pan - coming completely in contact with the plastic at two hours without room for further expansion. Poking was impossible with the dough sticking to my finger. Expectations were low.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Baked bread #32 for 28 minutes. I put the loaf pan on the baking stone. For bread #32, at 25 minutes, the crust still seemed a little light. Three more minutes did the trick. Ten to 15 minutes later, the bread easily same out of the loaf pan. I then let it sit on a rack overnight.
I was not expecting anything from the sticky mass of the dough for bread #32.
(No need to go into details about bread #31, which I baked for 40 minutes and did not go over well with anyone.)
Bread #32 is a winner with great taste. I expected a wet blob and instead got a wonderful oven spring, great rising, a bread that slices easily and is in the right shape for sandwiches. There is a very slight sweetness and the texture is moist, but not wet.
The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast claims that coconut oil is very healthy. A brief Internet search finds more complexity. WebMD's page on coconut oil states that there is a lack of data and takes the cautious approach of advising sparing use of this non-saturated, but fat-filled oil. However, there are numerous sites that appear in a Google search that extol the health benefits of coconut oil, with many subsidized through advertising. One representative link discusses benefits for heart, skin and cancer prevention. Supposedly, coconut oil is a favorite with vegans and is used in many healthy population groups. I have performed no independent data collection on this topic.