Not every bread makes a really good sandwich, even though just about any bread can be used to put together a sandwich. A really good sandwich bread, in my opinion, needs several things. It needs to be solid enough to hold together any combination of standard sandwich ingredients without letting them soak into or through the bread, so I don’t want to see very large holes or an overly porous crumb. It needs to be relatively soft and moist, both so that you don’t need to take a swig of water after every bite just to get the bread down and so that you can bite into the sandwich with ease. And, finally, it needs to be flavorful.
This particular loaf of Oat Bran and Flaxseed Bread turned out to be one of the best sandwich breads I’ve made in recent memory.
From the name alone, the bread sounds very healthy – and it is – but it still meets all the criteria I listed above and doesn’t taste like “health food” (to use the term prejoratively here) in any way. The bran adds fiber and a pleasantly sweet oaty taste to the bread, while the flaxseed adds in protein and a bit of texture. Neither ingredient interfered with the soft and tight crumb of the bread, which I was able to achieve by using all purpose flour as the bread’s base.
This bread could probably be baked in a loaf pan if you really want a standard size to your slices, but I opted to go with a round loaf. I like the look and don’t have any problem with my sandwich slices not being identical. I should mention that because of the nice crumb this bread has, it is very easy to slice it to different thicknesses. I used thinner slices for sandwiches and thicker ones for toast. The bread will keep fresh for a couple of days if you store it in an airtight container and can be refreshed in the oven if you want to crisp up the crust again.
Oat Bran and Flaxseed Bread
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey or agave syrup
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup oat bran
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2-3 cups all purpose flour
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, honey and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes.
Mix in the rest of the water, oat bran, ground flaxseed, salt and about 1 1/2 cups of flour. Gradually add remaining flour, stirring until the dough comes together into a slightly sticky ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Add a bit of flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking.
Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a piece of plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate. Shape into a large ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dust with flour and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F.
Make a couple of shallow slashes in the top with a very sharp knife. Bake loaf for about 35 minutes, until it is a golden brown color and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the base of the bread reads at least 200F.
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.