American Sandwich Bread
So, more bread today.
The man friend mentioned he’s been eating lots of PB&J sandwiches lately, and I noticed he was almost out of bread.
What better time to offer up my services?!
I’ve never made a loaf of white sandwich bread before.
Luckily, the ol’ interwebs provided me with many options.
I set to work on the KAF recipe, as all of the recipes I’ve tried from them are near perfect. And it was a disaster! I don’t know if my yeast was faulty, but the loaf only rose on one side. Like, literally there was almost a line down the middle of the loaf where one side was proofed and puffy and risen, and the other side was dense and flat. WTF.
I discarded and started again. Luckily the Baking Illustrated recipe stated it was fairly quick to put together.
And indeed it was!
The loaf rose like crazy and crowned HIGH ABOVE the top of the loaf pan. Of course, come baking time, my metal loaf pans were nowhere to be found, but that’s a story for another day (which will be titled “I have so many fucking baking pans that they spill out of my cabinets when I open them”). Luckily, I had a few disposable aluminum 9″x5″ pans around.
The bread itself was soft and fragrant. It sliced beautifully. The flavor is the perfect background for a variety of toppings. The milk, butter, and honey create such a gorgeously scented dough that was very easy to handle. I especially enjoyed watching that (very active) yeast do its thing during the second rise. I thought it might even rise to the top of the oven.
My man friend loved the bread, and immediately had a few slices before the bread had even cooled. When I asked him what to change about it, he said “Nothing. Make it just like this next time.”
So let’s get baking!
(Sorry for the bad photos, it was dark out).
The mixing process for the dough was so quick, I forgot to take pics. Just mix together your wet ingredients with the yeast, then slowly pour in the running stand mixer with the flour and salt. Knead until you have this:
The dough is nice and smooth and supple! Stick in a greased bowl and cover with plastic to rise:
The recipe says to keep it in the oven, after letting it run at 200 degrees F for 10 minutes:
After an hour, my dough was doubled:
Dump it out onto a work surface (mine didn’t need any flour–the dough was a delight to work with):
And pat it into a rectangle:
Then roll it up nice and tight:
And stick it into your pan:
Cover and let rise again. I went to do some dishes, and not even 15 minutes later, my dough went from this:
I hurried to preheat the oven, and let it finish rising another few minutes:
And into the oven it went. The recipe also calls for a pan filled with boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven. This helps create steam, which in turn creates a nice crust on top of the bread:
About 40 minutes later, you’ll have this:
Turn your loaf out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing, if you can.
Then eat in whatever way you see fit! Spread with butter, toasted, make a sandwich, or with dinner. There’s nothing like the smell of homemade bread.
AMERICAN SANDWICH BREAD
Notes: Make sure to turn your bread out of the pan to let it cool. I let it sit in the pan, still warm, while transporting and it was a bit soggy. After letting it cool on the counter completely, the sog factor went away, but just thought I’d mention it.
3 3/4 cups (18 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup whole milk, warm (about 110 degrees F)
- 1/3 cup water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 envelope instant yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Once the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain the heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.
2. Mix 3½ cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix the milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid. When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook, if necessary, about 10 minutes. (After 5 minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to ¼ cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form as mooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.
3. Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.
4. Gently press the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches. With a long side facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Keep one oven rack at the lowest position and place the other at the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty baking pan on the bottom rack. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the boiling water into the empty pan on the bottom rack at set the loaf onto the middle rack. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim into the center of the loaf read 195 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.