More Adventures in Healthy Bread: Sandwich Loaves, Buns, and Apple Bread

Braised pork on whole wheat buns with micro greens

Slow Cooker Herbed Pork Sandwiches

[Jump right to the recipes: Cinnamon Toast & Slow Cooker Herbed Pork Sandwiches]

I’m happy to report that in January I stuck with my 2010 culinary resolution to learn how to bake bread. A couple of weeks ago I shared with you my first foray into this adventure: making the master recipe from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. My experiences (experiments?) proved that indeed homemade bread is possible with just a few minutes active effort at any given time. I was generally happy with my results and with the encouragement of my family I’ve persevered. I continue to be well-supported by the baking group so wonderfully organized by Michelle from Big Black Dogs. In short – I’m hooked!

Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread*

The baking group’s second assignment was to make the Soft Whole What Sandwich Bread recipe and turn out three different creations:

  • A loaf of bread baked in a traditional loaf pan
  • Hot dog or hamburger buns
  • Apple strudel bread

I’m happy to report that I made all three different applications of the dough and had a thoroughly fun time with each. Thus far this dough is my favorite to make, work with, and eat.

*As a reminder, all of the bread recipes the baking group is following can be found in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. We’ve agreed not to republish them online but you can pick up a copy of the book for less than $20. Also, I’ll be giving a copy of the book away later this month, so you can try to win a copy then. Following Michelle’s great example I’m sharing a recipe that goes well with our bread as part of this post, so you won’t feel recipe deprived.

Making the Dough

The sandwich bread dough recipe has nine ingredients instead of the 6 in the master loaf, so it took just a little bit longer to make: 13 minutes instead of 11. Because these branded ingredients worked so well for me for the master recipe I stuck with them for this recipe as well:

  • King Arthur Whole Wheat and unbleached AP Flour
  • Hodgeson Mill vital wheat gluten

I did double the salt in this recipe based on my experience with my first batch of dough and the little extra helped enhance the flavor of all of the breads I made. I once again measured the ingredients by volume using my kitchen scale, which probably adds a couple of minutes to the process but it’s worth it. I mixed the dough by hand again because it was so easy last time, and once again with just a little elbow grease the mixture came together quickly.

Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Dough

Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread dough - just mixed

The dough rose beautifully as well, as you’ll see below.

Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Dough

Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread dough - after initial rise

Bread #1: Sandwich Loaf

Because this loaf gets most of its shape from a loaf pan, it’s very easy to put together. A quick shaping of the dough into a ball and then a stretch to lengthen it was all it took. I had it in the pan in less than 3 minutes.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf

Whole wheat loaf - after shaping

I wasn’t sure how much rise to expect while the loaf rested because the master loaf didn’t rise much at all, but I was excited to see the dough fill the pan before I even put it into the oven.

Whole wheat loaf

Whole wheat sandwich loaf - after resting

I was very happy with the final loaf. It has an even and open crumb and a deep wheat flavor. My family does like wheat bread, so they were fine with the richer flavor. Even so, I think I’ll make the dough again with light wheat flour to see how that changes the flavor profile.

Whole wheat loaf - baked

Whole wheat sandwich loaf - baked and sliced

As I was trying to think of a recipe to go with this bread, I saw that Elise from Simply Recipes recently offered up her take on cinnamon toast, a recipe that’s so simple yet has so many different possible preparations. It turns out my mother’s cinnamon toast that I grew up eating and still make for my family is indeed different from the method Elise outlines. I thought for fun I would share my mom’s “recipe” for making cinnamon toast as it was a perfect match for this hearty wheat bread.

Bread #2: Hamburger Buns

I will admit that I had my trepidations about making hamburger buns. Now that I’ve made them, I’m not sure where they came from, but indeed they were there. Making hamburger buns is as easy as making small balls of dough and flattening them a bit with your hand to form a burger-sized round. Yep – that’s all there is too it. It took me maybe 5 minutes total to prep the pan with my slipat and shape the buns. My fourth bun was a little more evenly shaped than my first, which shows that a bit of practice is all it takes to form professional-looking hamburger buns.

Whole wheat hamburger buns

Whole wheat hamburger buns - after shaping

Interestingly, the buns didn’t rise as much as the loaf of the same dough did, although they only rested for half of the time which might explain it.

Whole wheat hamburger buns

Whole wheat hamburger buns - after resting

I chose to brush the buns with melted butter and skipped the sesame seeds. The resulting buns were fantastic. Like the loaf of bread they had a nice open crumb and the melted butter created a crisp crust on the top. They weren’t as light as store-bought buns, but I didn’t really expect them to be given the robustness of the loaf of bread I’d made earlier in the week. At some point I’ll confer with the group to get their thoughts on how to make a lighter bun, but for now, I’m excited to be able to make my own, particularly for those nights when we only need 3 buns instead of the 6 or 8 we usually get at the store.

I knew that rich buns like these would need a substantial filling – both in weight and flavor. After some hunting I found a recipe for slow roasted pork on I liked the flavor profile of the pork but wanted something more low-maintenance, so I converted it into slow cooker recipe that the whole family really enjoyed. I secured a pork shoulder from a local purveyor and topped the sandwiches with locally grown micro greens and locally produced cheese. When I served the sandwiches to my family I felt I really knew the source of every single ingredient, starting and ending with the bread.

Pork and micro greens on a whole wheat bun

Slow cooked pork on freshly baked buns

Brad #3: Apple Strudel Bread

The last application of our dough was a stuffed and rolled loaf of bread mean to be reminiscent of apple strudel. The recipe calls for a filling of apples, raisins, and walnuts mixed with sugar and cinnamon. I modified the recipe to use dried cherries and sliced almonds because we prefer those flavors. It took me almost 30 minutes to prepare this loaf but that was largely due to the time it took to prep the filling. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got ready to roll out the dough, but it rolled out very easily.

Whole wheat dough rolled thin

Whole wheat dough rolled thin

The bread is like a giant cinnamon roll with filling spread over the dough and rolled inside. The recipe makes quite a lot of filling, particularly if the apples are big.

Whole wheat dough with apple filling

Whole wheat dough with apple filling

The one mistake I made was not to be sure I had enough flour under the dough as I rolled so it stuck to the counter as I tried to roll it up. The result was some torn dough a slightly mangled outside exterior. I patched the holes with a bit of left over dough and I’m confident that next time I make this bread I’ll be able to get it into the pan in slightly better shape.

Filled dough in a loaf pan

Slighly mangled filled dough in a loaf pan

Even with my patch job, the final bread was just beautiful, particularly when sliced. It was also very tasty – not too sweet and substantial enough to be breakfast on its own along with a glass of milk and maybe a slice or two of bacon. This bread is a perfect candidate for preparing the night before and resting in the refrigerator overnight before baking the next morning. Nothing says “I love you” on a weekend morning like freshly baked bread!

Apple strudle bread

Apple strudle bread - pretty after baking

What’s Next

Our next assignment is inspired by Valentine’s Day. We’ll be making red beet buns and chocolate espresso bread. My calendar is a little full right now with a couple of Mardi Gras parties, so I’m only planning to make the espresso bread but will squeeze in the beet buns if time allows. Until then, enjoy the recipes that my family has enjoyed with our homemade bread.

Recipe: Cinnamon Toast


  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes


  • 8 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
  • 4 Tbsp. softened butter (light butter works well too)
  • 4 Tbsp. raw sugar (white sugar works here as well)
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon (recommend Saigon or Vietnamese)


  1. Turn your oven broiler to high. If the broiler is at the top of the oven, position a rack in the position closest to the broiler.
  2. Spread butter evenly over each slice of bread.
  3. Sprinkle each slice of bread first with sugar and then with cinnamon.
  4. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and cook under the broiler until the sugar begins to bubble and the edges of the bread are brown.

Recipe for Success

  • You could mix the sugar and cinnamon together before you sprinkle them on the bread, but my mother always made cinnamon toast this way so I can’t imagine having it any other way.
  • I used the bread I made for this recipe but you can use any bread you like. Lighter breads may not hold up as well to the weight of the butter, sugar, and cinnamon so choose a slightly heavier bread if you can.
  • Keep an eye on the bread while it’s under the broiler. It will go from not done to done in the blink of an eye.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Herbed Pork Sandwiches

Adapted from Hot Slow-Roasted Pork, Onion, and Mozzarella Sandwiches


  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Serves: 8
  • Active Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour – 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 6 hours


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted and then ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3 lb. pork shoulder or butt
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced (optional)
  • Roasted red peppers, sliced (optional)
  • Micro greens (optional)


  1. Combine the olive oil, shallots, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, fennel, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to create a thick paste.
  2. With a sharp knife, make slits 1 inch long and 2 inches deep all around the pork shoulder. Rub the herb paste over all sides of the shoulder, pressing the paste down into the slits.
  3. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
  4. Add the chopped onion, white wine, and bay leaf the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork shoulder on top of the onion and cover with the lid.
  5. Cook on high for 6 hours or until the pork begins to fall apart.
  6. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place in a shallow bowl or dish. Shred evenly with two forks.
  7. Drain the juices from the slow cooker into a fat separator. Pour the juices without the fat into a 2 cup measuring cup. You may only have a quarter cup or so of defatted juices.
  8. Add enough chicken broth to the measuring cup to equal 2 cups of liquid.
  9. Combine 2 Tbsp. of the liquid with the cornstarch in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  10. Pour the remaining liquid into a medium sauce pan. Add the cider vinegar and honey. Bring to a boil
  11. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  12. Taste for flavor and add salt and pepper as needed.
  13. Pour the sauce over the shredded pork and toss to combine.
  14. Serve on whole wheat buns with slices of mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and micro greens.

Recipe for Success

  • You can also make the pork in an oven instead of a slow cooker. Bake in a tightly-covered pot at 325 degrees for 4-5 hours.
  • Make the pork up to a day ahead and warm before serving.
  • To hold warm, return the sauced pork to the slow cooker and turn it to the warm setting.
  • This recipe will easy double or triple. You’re really only limited by the size of your pot.
  • The pork will freeze beautifully for up to 3 months in a zip-top bag.


  1. Love your site! The slow cooker pork sounds delicious.
    I’v been meaning to make some picadillo empanadas for some time now, so thanks for the nudge.
    Good luck squeezing in the beet buns!

  2. Really creative job on the apple strudel bread!

  3. Your loaf of bread baked up wonderfully and the buns looks great. Slow roasted pork is always a favorite around here. But my favorite is the Apple Strudel Bread, love the addition of cherries. Love cherry any which way!

  4. How funny, I made pulled pork for my rolls as well! It just seemed like pork was meant to be eaten with them.

    They look absolutely beautiful especially your apple strudel loaf.

  5. great looking bread. love the picture of your filled bun. nice touch with the sprouts (cress?)

  6. All your breads look great. But those pork sandwiches look especially yummy!

  7. Beautiful blog. I love the quilt blocks that come up with each comment (I’m a quilter). Each of your breads and buns are beautiful. Look forward to cooking with you!

  8. Everything looks wonderful! Love the pulled pork recipe

  9. Your pictures are gorgeous. I too am a quilter and love your blocks. Are your quilts as pretty as your Bread?