09 April 2010

Classic White Sandwich Bread

Classic White Sandwich Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

Classic white sandwich bread is something anyone who wants a reputation as a cook needs to master. Even if you really can't cook a lick, if you can make yeast bread everyone thinks you're some kind of cooking genius. Seriously, yeast bread (and pie crust) really impresses people. Master these and you'll be able to fake it as a cook for the rest of your life. If you've never made bread before, just follow my can't-fail step-by-step below.

If you prefer to use a heavy-duty stand mixer for mixing and kneading bread dough, here is the same Classic White Sandwich Bread - Stand Mixer Method.

Classic White Sandwich Bread

5 dip-and-sweep cups (25 ounces/709 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups (16 fluid ounces/473 ml) milk or water, room temperature
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) melted unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil

1 In large bowl (a straight-sided 4-quart bowl makes it easy to tell when dough has doubled), whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast. With dough whisk or large wooden spoon, stir in liquid and butter or oil until thoroughly mixed. Stir for 1 or 2 minutes, then stir in 2 1/2 cups flour a half cup at a time. Finished dough will be shaggy and sticky.

Classic White Sandwich Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com
2 Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerate for 24 hours. (Back when my grandmother made this bread, instead of using yeast, she would just keep back a small piece of dough from one batch to leaven the next, which also added flavor. In this updated version, I've added flavor by mixing the dough the day before.)

3 Remove dough from refrigerator and let rest for 1 hour to warm up a bit. Scrape dough out onto lightly floured (from remaining 1/2 cup) surface. Knead for about 5 or 6 minutes, adding more of remaining flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest a few minutes while you clean out and oil bowl for second rise.

4 Flatten out dough and continue kneading for another 5 or 6 minutes, or until dough is soft and smooth. Place dough in oiled bowl, turning dough to oil surface and pressing it flat. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm (82F/28C is ideal) place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. If house is cool, heat oven to 200F/93C, allow to heat for 2 minutes, turn off oven and put dough in to rise.

5 Lightly oil two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans. Turn risen dough out onto lightly floured (still from that remaining 1/2 cup) surface, flattening gently to break up any large bubbles. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Press each piece into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Fold in short ends of dough until piece is about 6 inches long. Roll from one rough edge, pinch seam to seal and roll gently to form a tight log the length of pan. Place seam-side down in prepared pans and press dough into pans so that it reaches sides, ends and corners. Cover loaves with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough rises just above top of pans and springs back just a little when lightly poked with a floured finger. (I put the pans and a mug of hot water under an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet held up by a 1-pound can in each corner and covered with a towel.)

Classic White Sandwich Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com
6 During the last 20 minutes, heat oven to 450F/230C/Gas8. Put loaves in oven and reduce heat to 375F/190C/Gas5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until loaves are golden brown, shrink from sides of pans, and bottoms of loaves sound hollow if tapped. Remove immediately from pans and let cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Wrap well as soon as bread has cooled thoroughly. Store at room temperature or freeze in zipper freezer bags. Yields 2 loaves.

Note: Some manufacturers call the 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch size a 1-pound loaf tin.  


Jan Fredrik Lockert said...

Your classic white bread looks delicious. I've never made bread before, but I will give it a try this time. Jan Fredrik

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Hello Jan Fredrik, Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Let me know how it goes with this recipe. The key is to not use too much flour. Where many people go wrong is in putting in every bit of flour the dough can handle right at the beginning, then when they use more flour for kneading and shaping it's too much and they end up with a very compact loaf.

TexasDeb said...

What a clever idea for creating a dough rising environment. I'm not a huge fan of white sandwich bread for daily use but like the idea of controlling the ingredients for those times when nothing else will do.

I'm wondering - would this bread, thinly sliced, make amazing toast points for paté?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Deb. I must admit I felt really clever and injured my arm patting myself on the back when I thought of that one! Seriously, it works very well.

Mmmm...now you're making me hungry. It makes wonderful toast, so maybe it would make amazing toast points for paté--haven't tried it yet. If you do, please let me know.

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

My husband loves to bake bread, so I'm going to pass this along to him and see if I can get him to try it. Yum!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Wonderful! Do let me know how it goes. There is nothing like homemade bread.