It's been too cold to safely venture outside for more than 10-15 minutes at a time with the toddler lately, so I've poured all my energy into baking and cleaning since we're pretty much stuck in the house during the week. Thankfully my two year old is going through an incredibly charming and pleasant phase; all he wants to do is listen to music and play his guitar and drums. I know it can't last, but I am really enjoying it for now. One of the tasks I've conquered with my relatively free time is perfecting the very simple yeasted sandwich bread recipe that I'm sharing with you today.
We love egg sandwiches, toast, and bread for dipping in soup at our house, so we go through a lot of bread. While I love the look of crunchy artisan round loaves, a nice traditional fluffy white sandwich bread can't be over appreciated. I started with this recipe from King Arthur Flour, and slowly began experimenting and simplifying the recipe, seeing how minimal I could go without losing the delightful fluffy texture. I asked a baker friend for advice when the top started collapsing and wrinkling a bit, and learned I was over proofing my dough- letting it rise too long and too warm. I've made this recipe a half a dozen times now, and I am confident it works well. Because this bread doesn't have any dairy or eggs, it's extremely inexpensive to make, especially if you buy flour in bulk. I get mine in a big 25lb bag from Costco.
Classic Fluffy Sandwich Bread Recipe - Makes two loaves
- 6 cups (25.50 oz) All Purpose Unbleached Flour
- 1 cup (8 oz) warm water
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) olive oil
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Mix all ingredients until they are relatively combined. Knead by hand or with a dough hook in a stand mixer for 4-8 minutes. Dough should be smooth and springy. Place in an oiled bowl in a warm spot, with a damp tea towel over it. I preheat my oven for 2 minutes and then shut it off. Allow dough to rise for 30-40 minutes, until it has nearly doubled.
Punch down dough, and divide into two pieces. Flour the dough and your hands, and shape dough by pulling the sides down and tucking underneath, creating some tension on the top of the loaf. Place in loaf pan lined with parchment paper, or a non-stick pan. Allow to rise either for 30 minutes somewhere warm, or overnight in your refrigerator. When I am letting it rise somewhere warm (70F ish) I spray the tops of the loaves with water to keep them from drying out and preventing the bread from rising. If I am letting them rise in the fridge I cover them with parchment.
You don't need to let your cooled dough warm up at all, you can bake straight from the fridge. It's lovely to let your dough rise overnight and start the day with fresh bread! Preheat your oven to 350F. Bake bread for 20-30 minutes, until just beginning to brown. As difficult as it is, let bread cool completely before slicing, or the inside of your bread can get gummy. I store my bread wrapped in a tea towel and placed inside a cloth bag.
My sourdough starter finally matured and I have begun baking bread from that instead of instant yeast, but I have a lot to learn about sourdough before I try to teach you that skill. I hope you enjoy this delicious sandwich bread. Baking your own bread is so rewarding, and saves a lot of money if you usually buy high quality bread. This bread should satisfy even the pickiest white bread eaters.
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