This is a great recipe for whole wheat bread that rises well, slices well, and has a very light texture - perfect for sandwich bread. In fact I make this bread when I want homemade bread for our sandwiches for dinner nights (one of my kids' favorite meals). The secret to a good rise is the vital wheat gluten. It will rise without the gluten, but I find adding a little gluten really helps, especially at the high altitude I cook at (over 6000 ft.). Also using white whole wheat flour helps this bread to have a fluffy texture, but you can use regular whole wheat flour instead.
As a note: I made this bread in a Bosch mixer, which allows me to make this bread really fast. The 10 minutes kneading time in the Bosch makes it so you don't have to have 2 rises. Of course you can make this bread in a different stand mixer or by hand. If making this bread by hand I would allow the dough 2 rises; once after initial mixing in an oiled bowl and then after the loaves are shaped and put in bread pans.
Fluffy Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
2 3/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar (or honey)
1/4 cup oil (or melted butter)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 heaping tablespoon vital wheat gluten (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup white bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
4-6 cups white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with dough hook, mix together warm water, sugar, oil, yeast, vital gluten, dry milk, and white bread flour. Mix until combined. Add 2 cups of the wheat flour and 1 tablespoon of salt. Mix. Continue adding wheat flour until the dough forms a ball and the sides of the bowl are mostly cleaned, for me I added 3 1/2 cups more for a total of 5 1/2 cups of wheat flour. The dough should be soft, but not overly sticky. Knead with dough hook on high for 10 minutes.
Grease 2 loaf pans generously with cooking spray. Turn dough out onto a non-stick sprayed surface. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place loaves into the bread pans and cover with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 50-90 minutes (time will depend on how warm your kitchen is) or until dough rises about an inch to an inch and a half over the pan.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake risen loaves at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top and loaves sound hallow when you tap them. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter if desired. Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.