Sodium in off-the-shelf bread is typically about 200 mg per slice, which makes it something that Joe just can’t afford with his diet. We have tried a few no-sodium options that we can grab in our local grocery store, but none of them are anything we want to eat with any regularity. My solution? I bake bread. For those of you who love baking (like me!) this is the obvious solution. For those of you who aren’t bread bakers, I say give this recipe a shot. (You can even half this recipe and mix it in a bread machine if you’ve got one of those. It works great that way.)
I’ve been baking bread for years and it is one of those things that takes a little practice. I have some tips that I have learned through the years:
- Check the temperature of your water. I always use a meat thermometer to measure the temp of my water (my favorite thermometer is a Thermapen, but you can use whatever you have). Shoot for water that is about 110°-115°. Remember that if the warm water goes into a cold bowl, it will lose a few degrees so you may want to measure the temp in the bowl.
- Knead the dough before its first rise. I don’t just mean to punch it down once or twice and then let it rise. I mean knead the dough. Work it, folding it in on itself for about 8 minutes. It seems like a very long time, but it really helps the gluten develop (the gluten is what gives bread its hallmark texture). You should knead the dough long enough for it to become really elastic. (I sometimes cheat and mix the dough in my stand mixer with a dough hook for 6-8 minutes instead of kneading. If you have a stand mixer that can handle it, it makes this much much easier.)
- Let the dough rise in a warm place. I live in Montana, which means my house is not always the warmest environment for letting bread rise. My solution? I put the dough in the oven with the oven off, and the oven light on. The light creates enough heat to let the dough rise perfectly. BTW I also put a sticky note on the oven controls to remind myself not to accidentally turn on the oven (I did this once – not pretty).
Those are the biggest things. I took a few photos along the way to show you how the dough looks at different stages. This first one is after I’ve added about half the flour. At this stage, I dump the whisk and start working the flour in with my hands. The dough might seem a little bit sticky at this stage, but it works for me – just plan on adding flour every minute or so until it gets a bit more firm. Oh and by the way, I count this as kneading from this point forward (start your timer).
Here’s one where I have kneaded the dough for about 8 minutes. The dough is nice and smooth at this point. And for any of you who might be wondering, yes I washed the bowl after I was done kneading. And yes I always do this, and have for years. It just makes cleanup so much easier.
Ta-da! There is the dough after it has risen for an hour and a half or so.
And there it is! Really delicious homemade bread that has only 57 mg sodium in a whole loaf. Like I said, you can half this recipe and use a bread machine (follow the manufacturer’s instructions). Or you can get super crazy (like me) and double this recipe for four loaves. The bread freezes just fine for a couple weeks. It is never quite as moist as an oven-fresh loaf, but it works for us.
Favorite White Bread
SODIUM COUNT: 4.7 mg per slice; 56.8 mg per loaf
- 2 1/4 cups warm water (110°F -115°F)
- 1 T active dry yeast*
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 T melted butter
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1/3 cup wheat gluten**
- 3 1/2 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
Stir the water, yeast, and sugar together in a large bowl. Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes. The mixture should begin to foam. If it does not foam, stop here. You want to either repeat the process (making sure that your water does not exceed 115°F) or you replace your yeast.
Whisk the dry milk powder and melted butter into the yeast mixture.
Add the wheat gluten to the mix, along with about ½ cup flour. Continue to whisk in the flour (½ cup at a time) until you have a wet dough (about 2 ½ - 3 cups total).
Continue to work the remaining flour into the dough a little bit at a time, kneading continuously. You should knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. During this time, the dough will become smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, cover loosely with a light towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down. Cover the dough again and let the dough rise once more in a warm place until doubled in sized, about 45 minutes.
Prepare two loaf pans (8 ½” x 4 ½”) by spraying with cooking spray or coating with shortening.
Punch down the dough and separate into two sections. Shape the dough into loaves and place into the prepared pans.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
When the loaves have risen just above the tops of the pans, place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION - Yield: 2 loaves, 24 slices each; serving size is 2 slices
Sodium: 9.5 mg, Calories: 204.1, Total Fat: 3.3 g, Saturated Fat: 1.9 g, Cholesterol: 7.6 mg, Carbohydrates: 35.8 g, Fiber: 1.2 g, Sugar: 5.0 g, Protein: 7.1 g.
*Quick-rise (bread machine) yeast works well for this recipe. If you use quick-rise yeast, your rising times will be cut roughly in half.
** You can omit the wheat gluten, but if you do, use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. This gives the bread the elasticity that we’re after.
Recipe adapted from Low Sodium Best Ever White Bread.