Thursday, March 10, 2011

White Sandwich Bread, No Monkey Business

As I get older, I find that I prefer bread with at least a little whole grain, but sometimes, a really great white bread is required. For instance, I can't eat a BLT without white bread. And a grilled cheese and tomato is just better on the white stuff.

I have a bread machine, but I haven't used it in a very long time. A bread machine takes all the fun out of making bread. You can make bread dough in a Kitchenaid, and I often do, but I like to knead the dough by hand too. And even if I do make the dough in the mixer, I always like to finish by kneading the dough on the counter for a minute or two. It's a good practice to get into, so you can get used to how the dough is supposed to feel.

If you've never made bread, this is a good recipe to start with. It takes some practice, but each time you'll get better at knowing when to stop kneading and when to punch the dough down after the first rise.

This is a white bread you can feel good about eating - no high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives. It's nice a soft too. The crust gets a great caramelization, but it's not too strong-tasting either. The kids will still pick the super-soft supermarket bread over any other, if given the choice. But someday, when their taste buds are more discriminating, I know they'll prefer this one, like I do.

Next time, I'll show you how we "monkeyed around" with this recipe to make something no one in the house could resist!

White Sandwich Bread

Makes 1 loaf

¼ cup warm water (110 to 115F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast, or 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm whole milk (110 to 115F)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Place the water, sugar, and yeast in the small bowl and whisk to blend. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and foamy. In the medium bowl, whisk together the warm milk and melted butter.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix briefly to blend. Add the yeast mixture and milk mixture and mix on medium speed just until the dough comes together, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading. Turn the speed to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough is firm, elastic, and smooth, 3 to 6 minutes. Finish by kneading by hand for another minute or two.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl or tub and coat the surface of the dough with a little oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes (longer if the room is cold).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don’t knead the dough again or it will be too springy and difficult to shape (if this happens, simply cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes to give the gluten some time to relax.) Shape the dough into a loaf. Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter, or a high-heat canola oil spray. Place the dough, seam side down, in the pan.

Lightly oil the top of the dough to keep it moist. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and allow the dough to rise again until its top is ½ to 1 inch above the rim of the pan, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F and position an oven rack in the center. Brush the top of the loaf with a thin film of the beaten egg. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and the internal temperature registers 200F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Slice with the serrated knife.


  1. I have my where is my toast????

    Janet xox

  2. Coconut - thanks for stopping! Your blog looks delicious!

    Janet - if you start now, you can have your toast in 3 hours, but by then your coffee will be cold! But you could have some bread in time for a grilled cheese for lunch!

  3. Looks delish! I love warm white bread right out of the oven, and cold from the oven, and on a sandwich, and ...

  4. I bake a lot of bread, far more than I even have time to blog about, but I rarely make classic white bread. I made it again a couple of weeks ago for the first time in about a year and I fell back in love <3

  5. Samantha - I have definitely caught the bread-baking bug and at the risk of boring all who read this blog, I'll be posting a lot more loaves here!

  6. That is one fine looking loaf! You say all the recipes from this book are good ones? I've been tempted to get it.

  7. Irina - I highly recommend this book (The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet and Sur la Table). The recipes are interesting and incorporate something a little different - and not just the same things you see over and over in other baking books. This substantial book has photos that are great and the instructions are clear. I've had success with every recipe I've tried, unlike the book that shall remain nameless but has a cult following that posts on Tuesdays - I've had perhaps 70% success from that book. You can get this one pretty cheap now that it's been out for a while.



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