American Sandwich Bread

October 5, 2012

About 1 and 1/2 years ago, I started working on Sandwich Bread recipes for my two son’s sandwiches. (see here, here, here and here). After some trial and error, I now have the art of making sandwich bread down to a science. At this point all my potential problems are known. While the whole process takes about 20 minutes of effort, those 20 minutes are spread out over 3 hours (slightly less in warmer months and more in colder months). Because I control all the ingredients I know that my bread is healthier, and fresh bread always tastes better. My two son’s love the homemade bread, and seem truly disappointed when my schedule forces me to buy store-bought bread.

The smell of fresh bread makes the whole house happier

Special Equipment and Supplies:

  1. 2-pound Pullman loaf pan.  (I got mine for $11 here)
  2. Bread Bags.  ($20 per 1,000 bags at Sam’s Club, but I got mine here for $25, or $30 here)
  3. Laminated Twist Ties. ($4 per 2,000 here)
  4. Granulated Lecithin.($12 per pound)
  5. Fruit Fresh. ($3 in Walmart)
  6. Bulk Instant (Rapid Rise) Yeast. ($3/lb here). Which is about 48 tablespoons, so enough for a year’s supply of sandwich bread.

My Advice:

  1. Because I need the bread to stay fresh for a full week of lunches, I added a few natural “dough conditioners”. I add a tablespoon of granulated lecithin which makes for a moister loaf.  Chris Kimball’s original loaf  would dry out after a few days. I include 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C ) to slightly change the pH to inhibit mold growth. When I made the loaf without this it grew mold in as little as 3 days.
  2. Resist the urge to slice the bread until it has cooled for 3 full hours. Slicing warm bread will allow moisture to escape from the loaf. In the best case you’re left with dry loaf, but if you then put it in a plastic bag the escaping moisture will encouraged molding after only 3 days. Never put warm bread into a plastic bag.
  3. I like the sponge, but truthfully only about half my loaves are made using a sponge (which I start before bed on Saturday night). If I don’t make using a sponge, I use closer to 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $.90 for 29-ounce loaf.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Finish time 7:00 PM. (But don’t slice for another 3 hours)

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared and baked the bread are given below:

Sponge:
3-1/2 oz warm water
1/8 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast or dry active yeast
3-1/2 oz flour

Wet Ingredients:
1-3/8 cup milk (10-1/2 ounces)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast or dry active yeast
1 tablespoon granulated lecithin

Dry Ingredients:
3-1/2 cups bread flour (18 ounces)
2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 to 3/8 teaspoon fruit fresh or other powdered Vitamin C

  1. About 12 to 24 hours before making the loaf, prepare the sponge by heating water in microwave for 15 seconds to 105-degrees. Whisk in yeast and let it hydrate for 5 minutes. Finally, whisk in flour, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot in your kitchen for up to 24 hours.
  2. If your kitchen is less than 70-degrees, adjust an oven rack to low-middle position. and pre-heat oven to 200-degrees, then turn it off. You will use the residual heat of the oven to speed the first rise in a cool kitchen.
  3. Add 10-1/2 ounces of milk to a Pyrex measuring cup (at least 2 cup capacity); heat in microwave for 40 seconds until mixture reaches 105-degrees. Mix in yeast, olive oil, sugar and granulated lecithin; allow to hydrate for 5 minutes.
  4. Add sponge and dry ingredients to the bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.
  5. Turn on standing mixer to lowest speed and slowly add liquid; use a rubber spatula to scrape out measuring cup. After the dough has come together, increase speed to 4 on KitchenAid mixer (medium-low on other models). Continue mixing for 10 minutes, stopping twice to remove the dough from hook. The dough will become smooth, add a little more flour or water if necessary. Lightly flour a work surface and gently turn out the dough. Knead by hand for about 15 seconds to form a smooth ball.
  6. Lightly oil a large glass bowl with non-stick cooking spray, add dough and roll around to lightly coat the dough ball. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in your warm (but turned off) oven. The dough should take about 45 minutes to double in size.
  7. Spray your loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Gently turn the dough out onto floured surface. Gently press the dough into a rectangle that corresponds exactly to the length of your loaf pan. Lightly spray the dough rectangle with a water bottle before rolling to try to prevent large air bubbles (or brush water on using a pastry brush). Roll the dough into a tight cylinder so that it corresponds to the length of your loaf pan, firmly pressing down as you roll to ensure that the dough sticks to itself and that there are no large air bubbles. Pinch the seam closed along the length of the cylinder, and put into your loaf pan seem-side down. Softly press the dough so that it touches all four sides of the pan.
  8. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap, realizing that the loaf will grow above the top of the pan. Place it in a warm spot in your kitchen for between 1 to 2 hours. Depending upon pan size, wait until the dough grows to fill your loaf pan.
  9. About 20 minutes prior to baking, begin pre-heating your oven to 425-degrees. Adjust an oven rack to middle position; any lower and your bottom crust will be too hard.
  10. Carefully remove plastic wrap, spray the loaf three times with water from a spray bottle, and place loaf pan in oven. After 5 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 325-degrees and turn loaf 180-degrees. Bake uncovered for 8 additional minutes. Tent with aluminum foil to keep the loaf top very soft; baking for another 12 to 14 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 195 degrees. Carefully remove bread from pan, and let cool on a wire rack for 3 hour before slicing.

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