My husband is very picky about bread. He loves eating sandwiches, but he’s not a big fan of homemade bread. He likes to eat homemade bread as a snack or treat, but always defers to storebought bread for sandwiches. His main complaints about homemade bread are the stiffness of the crust, not being the “right” shape (aka doesn’t look like a storebought loaf), and too delicate to cut into thin slices. Because I enjoy baking, especially something easy like bread (seriously, it is easy, just bear with me), and would rather make something than have him buy it at the store, this bugged me to no end.
Until I found the perfect (ok, well, mostly perfect, I still haven’t switched from white flour to whole wheat) sandwich bread that has finally earned El Hubs’ Seal of Approval.
I promise, this recipe really is easy, the crust is not too thick or hard, and the body of the bread is not too chewy or too delicate. It can easily be sliced thin and holds its shape and size. I originally used a recipe from the Joy of Cooking, but I found out that when I actually follow the recipe, it doesn’t get the Seal. So I had to record how I deviated from the recipe so that I could still make the bread. I made this bread this past weekend and again on Thursday. I made 2 loaves each time (8×11 loaves, so not as much as a storebought loaf), and hubby still approves.
Easy White Sandwich Bread
– 1/4 cup warm water
– 4 teaspoons yeast
– 1 cup warm milk
– 1 cup warm water
– 2 tablespoons honey (or sugar)
– 2 tablespoons butter, softened
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 5 cups flour, separated into 3 cups and 2 cups
- Set aside 2 tablespoons of butter to soften.
- Set aside 3 cups of flour, and 2 cups of flour in another container
- Pour 1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees F, I use warm – not hot – water from the tap) into the bottom of your mixer bowl.
- Add 4 teaspoons of yeast (or add one packet plus 1 3/4 teaspoons of yeast) to the mixer bowl
- Allow the yeast to dissolve into the water for at least 5 minutes while you move on to the other steps.
- Pour 1 cup of milk into a small or medium saucepan and warm on the stove until it reaches 105-110 degrees F. This step really does not take as long as you might think.
- Once the milk has reached the appropriate temperature, turn off the heat.
- Add 1 cup of warm (105-110 degrees F) water to the warm milk.
- Add 2 tablespoons of softened butter.
- Add 2 tablespoons of honey (or sugar, but we prefer honey)
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt
- Stir the mixture together in the saucepan until the butter is completely melted and the honey and salt are disolved.
- Slowly stir the mixture from the saucepan into the mixer bowl
- Add 3 cups of flour to the mixer bowl and mix on low speed for one minute
- Gradually add the remaining flour about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on low, until the dough is moist and still a little sticky. The consistency of pizza crust is a good reference. If it is more moist than optimum, it will still turn out well.
- Change the mixer paddle to a dough hook and knead the dough in the mixer for 5 minutes.
- While the dough is kneading, get a large, clean bowl and grease it. Get out plastic wrap and press it along the inside of the bowl so that the grease (I use olive oil) transfer onto the wrap as well.
- After the dough is finished kneading, put it in the bowl and flip the dough over once so that both sides are coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, oiled side down.
- Let the dough rise in a warm place until double, usually 1-1 1/2 hours.
- When the dough has risen to double, put it back in the mixer bowl and knead again for 5 minutes. Return to the original bowl and recover with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise in a warm place until double, usually 1 hour.
- When dough is doubled, punch down. Let it rest for a minute or two.
- Grease 2 8×11 (or close to that size) loaf pans.
- Divide the dough in half, form a loaf (this is a sticky dough, so I typically just roll the dough under, like making a tortilla, to make a mostly smooth top. I don’t roll it out and pinch like I would for a normal loaf.), and place one ball in each loaf pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap (I normally add more oil to the plastic wrap at this point by laying it on the counter, pour some oil on it and then spreading the oil with my hand.)
- Let the dough rise in a warm place until it domes softly over the top of the pan, usually 1 hour.
- About 20 minutes before you expect the dough to be finished rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- When the dough is finished rising, remove the plastic wrap and put the loaves in the oven. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 25-30 more minutes, until the bread has a hollow sound when you tap the bottom of it.
- Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 2-5 minutes (or run a butter knife around the edges to release it from the pan sooner) and then set on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Try not to cut into the bread until it has cooled completely. We store our bread in a bread drawer that is built into our cupboards. It lasts 4-5 days without going stale that way but there are all kinds of bread storage devices around.
- I also brush the tops of the loaves with butter while they are still hot to soften the crust.
Good luck, and I hope you love the bread as much as we do! I would love to hear how it turns out for you – or better yet, see pictures! 🙂