Here we are in the current coronavirus situation, making us live like Little House on the Prairie. I seem to be running a bakery now, to keep bread on hand for dinner and sandwiches. I like this basic white sandwich bread recipe from Joy of Baking, because I can get two loaves of bread and two pans of rolls or ten hamburger buns, out of one batch, by extending the first and second rise by 45 minutes to an hour. This extension also makes for a fluffy, flaky crust, which is possibly over-proving, but my family is super into it and hates dense bread.
You can just go for three loaves of bread or two really GIANT loaves, but that’s a whole lotta loaf bread for the week.. so I break it up to keep it interesting. If you are familiar with baking bread, you know the weather plays quite a bit in the final product, but this dough consistently “feels” right. I always hand knead my dough for five minutes after I put it through the dough hook processes a recipe recommends.
I use the Joy of Baking White Sandwich Bread recipe, using the starter I made the night before with their recipe. I love their recipes because they use weights as measurements which are more precise.
Full recipe can be found at: https://www.joyofbaking.com/breads/WhiteSandwichBread.html
Recipe: Pre-Ferment Starter
- 3/4 cups (235 grams) unbleached bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) SAF Red or Gold instant yeast Available on Amazon
- 1 1/4 teaspoons (5 grams) kosher salt
- 2/3 cup (150 grams) cold filtered water
Pre-Ferment: In a medium sized bowl stir the flour with the yeast and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the water. With a plastic scraper or wooden spoon, work the flour into the liquid, until all the flour has been moistened.
Then lightly oil a medium sized bowl. Place the dough into the bowl and flip it over so the top of the dough has a light coating of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit (ferment) at room temperature for one hour. Then place in the refrigerator overnight (about 12 hours).
Recipe: White Sandwich Loaf
- 5 1/2 cups (715 grams) unbleached bread flour
- 1/2 cup (65 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (7 grams) SAF Red or Gold instant yeast Available on Amazon
- 3 3/4 teaspoons (15 grams) kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated white sugar
- Scant 1/2 cup (40 grams) dried milk powder
- 2 cups (480 grams) cold filtered water5 tablespoons (75 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
White Sandwich Bread: In a large bowl stir the flours with the yeast, salt, sugar, and dried milk powder. Remove the Pre-ferment from the refrigerator and cut it into small chunks. Pour the cold water into the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Then add the Pre-ferment and the flour mixture. Knead the dough on 1st speed for five minutes. Increase your mixer speed to 2nd speed and continue to knead the dough for about 4-6 minutes or until the dough cleans the bowl and is smooth, elastic, and not very sticky. Add the butter and continue to knead the dough, on 2nd speed, for another three to five minutes or until the dough cleans the bowl and is smooth and elastic.
First Rise: Place your dough in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled. Turn the dough once so the top of the dough has a light coating of oil (this prevents a crust from forming on the top of the dough). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (about 75 degree F) (24 degree C) until almost doubled (approximately 1 hour).
Second Rise: Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. You want the top of the dough to now be on the bottom. Lightly flour the top of your dough and with the palms of your hands flatten the dough slightly to break any large air bubbles. Then divide the dough into two equal sized pieces (about 900 grams each). When you divide the dough use a pastry scraper or knife and cut, don’t pull or stretch, the dough. Then, working with one piece of dough at a time, pre-shape your dough into a round. Do this by taking the edges of the dough and fold them into the center and gently seal. Then flip your dough over so the smooth side is facing up. With the palms of your hands rotate the ball of dough on your surface to create surface tension and to seal the edges of the dough completely. Place the rounds on a lightly floured baking sheet or board and cover with plastic wrap. Let the rounds of dough sit at room temperature for about 25-30 minutes. (This is to relax the dough and you will notice that the dough will rise a little.)
You will need two – 9 x 5 x 4 inch (23 x 12.5 x 10 cm) loaf pans. Lightly grease the pans with a flavorless oil or spray with a non stick vegetable spray.
Third Rise: Next, place the rounds of dough, upside down, onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Form the dough into a rectangle. Take the short edge of the rectangle and fold the dough lengthwise into thirds, like you’re folding a letter. Make sure the edges of the dough are straight and even. Next, we need to shape the dough into a log shape. Take the top edge of the dough and fold it into the center and seal. Again, take the top edge of the dough and fold it over to the edge of the dough and seal. Turn the dough so the seal is now underneath. Then with the palms of your hands, gently roll the dough back and forth until it’s the length of your loaf pan. Place the logs of dough into your pans, seam side down. (The dough should fill the pan about two thirds full.) Cover each pan with plastic wrap that has been lightly floured and let proof at room temperature for 1 – 2 hours or until almost doubled in size. The dough will rise above the rim of your loaf pan. (If you lightly press into the dough, your finger will leave a slight indentation.) (If the dough starts to mushroom over the sides of the pan bake immediately.)
Meanwhile preheat your oven to 350 degree F (180 degree C). If you want your bread to have a slight crust, place a cast iron frying pan on the floor of your oven. We will be placing a few ice cubes in the frying pan to create steam.
When your bread is ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and place in the preheated oven. Place 3-4 ice cubes into your frying pan. Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes or until your bread is golden brown. If you tap the bread it will sound hollow. About halfway through baking turn your pans front to back to promote even baking. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes. Then remove the breads from their pans, placing the bread top side up on a wire rack. If a soft crust is desired, brush the tops of the breads with melted butter. Let cool completely before serving. This bread can be stored in an airtight bag for about three days or it can be frozen for a couple of months.
Makes 2 loaves of White Sandwich Bread.