I love to bake bread. It warms up my kitchen and the fills my house with delicious aromas, improving everyone’s mood. While my kids prefer a spoonful of sugar in their sandwich bread, I often want an adult-friendly loaf. While the best way to achieve my desired results is to make a biga or starter the night before; the fermentation gives great depth and complexity of flavor; today’s recipe is for those instances when I just need to make a quick loaf of sandwich bread. It’s fool-proof and ready in about 2 hours with a total of about 15 minutes of work. I use 6-ounces of beer to make up for the flavor lost by skipping the 12 hours required to make the biga. 4-1/2 stars.
When I make this loaf for my kids, I use 4-ounces of water instead of beer, 10-ounces of milk instead of 8-ounces. I also add 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar or honey (added to wet ingredients while hydrating yeast). Overall I’ve been making my kids homemade sandwich bread for a about 4 years and perfected this large 12-hour sandwich loaf. I also make a small 12-hour version here.
- Of course, bread made without any preservatives goes stale relatively fast. I make this bread sans preservatives and is still good after 3 days. If you want it to last all week; e.g. to bake this bread on Sunday and have it stay fresh through Friday’s lunch. I found a list of natural preservatives that can use in sandwich bread. I sometimes use granulated lecithin (which I bought online).
- The keys to making bread without preservatives are: (1) Do not overcook. Bake only until the loaf reaches an internal temperature of 200-to-205-degrees. (2) Allow loaf to fully cool prior to slicing, or you will allow moisture to escape and give your loaf a head-start on becoming stale. (3) Use some olive oil to keep the loaf from being too dry.
- Do not cut your loaf before it has cooled to room temperature. In the past I had tried slicing my bread after 1 hour, placed the slices in large plastic bread bag and immediately saw condensation. 2 hours are minimum, but I recommend 3 hours of cooling time.
- Starting to bake the loaf at higher temperatures during the first 7 minutes (in Step 8) gives great “oven spring” so you don’t get a dense loaf. But reducing the temperature will also ensure that the crust doesn’t get too dark by the time the loaf reached an internal temperature of 200-to-205-degrees.
- The use of milk in this recipe keeps the final crumb relatively tight.
- Use 1 tablespoon in step 2, then cut down rising time to 1 hour.
Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Finish time 6:00 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:
1-1/8 cup milk (8 ounces)
3/4 cup beer or water (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups bread flour (19-oz ounces)
2 teaspoons table salt
- Pre-heat oven to 200-degrees, and immediately turn off once it reaches the desired temperature. You will use the residual heat to cut the rising time down to 45 minutes.
- Add milk and beer/water to a Pyrex measuring cup (at least 2 cup capacity); heat in microwave for 1m15s mixture until it reaches about 105-degrees. Whisk in yeast; allowing it to hydrate for 5 minutes. Add in olive oil and stir to combine.
- Whisk together flour and salt in large bowl. Add yeast mixtures from step 1. Use a rubber spatula to fold until shaggy ball forms, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl. Kneed dough for 2 minutes. Spray bowl with non-spick cooking spray, put dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm, but turned off, oven for 40 to 45 minutes. The dough should double in size.
- Spray your loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Gently turn the dough out onto a very lightly-floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a rectangle so that it corresponds to the length of your loaf pan. Spray dough with water and roll up into a tight log. Move dough into pan and softly press so that it touches all four sides of the pan. Spray top with dough with non-stick cooking spray to prevent the dough from deflating in Step 8.
- Cover loosely 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 about 45 minutes; until the dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when you poke it with your finger.
- 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.
- Carefully remove plastic wrap, spray the loaf three times with water from a spray bottle, (optionally sprinkle top with a little bit of flour). Carefully place loaf pan in 425-degree oven. Set kitchen timer for 28 minutes corresponding to the total cooking time. After 7 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375-degrees and turn loaf 180-degrees. Bake uncovered for 8 additional minutes. Tent with aluminum foil to keep the loaf top soft; baking for remaining 13 to 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf will reads 200-degrees when the loaf is done. Carefully remove bread from pan, and let cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hour before slicing.