With my two sons back in school, I’ve dusted off my various Sandwich Breads recipe and I’ve updated it to reflect my ever-changing bread requirements. Happily, I now have new standing mixer, which lets me build gluten the old-fashioned way (by kneading). Kneading speeds the process of gluten development so much, that I can comfortable make a sturdy loaf in just 2 hours. Also, I replaced by broken kitchen scale with this cheap $12 scale. While I loved the functionality of my old $50 Oxo kitchen scale, I decided not to replace it because of it’s apparent fragility (it broke after a very small fall).
After many years of making sandwich bread, I have come love the process of baking bread. The smell of bread in the oven and the warmth of the kitchen are irresistible as the autumn temperatures begin to fall. I have made and perfected many variations of this recipe, each year varying the recipe based upon my changing needs. The prior versions are:
Small 2-hour loaf without standing mixer,
Small 12-hour loaf without standing mixer.
Large 12-hour loaf with standing mixer.
The special equipment and supplies needed are best bought online. Here is what I’ve found:
- Bread Bags. ($18 per 1,000 bags at Sam’s Club, but I got mine here (they have since raised price to $34), or $25 here)
- Laminated Twist Ties. ($3 per 2,000 here)
- Granulated Lecithin. ($14 per pound)
- Fruit Fresh. ($3 in Walmart)
- Bulk Instant (Rapid Rise) Yeast. ($3/lb here). Enough for 72 loaves of sandwich bread.
- Bread made without any preservatives goes stale relatively fast. I make this bread sans preservatives and is still good after 3 days; mostly my bread only needs to last 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 (about 80-degrees). I recommend a full 3 hours of cooling time. I have sliced my bread after 2 hour, and the next morning woke to see condensation in the bag. If you ever see moister in the bag; put it into a new bag to prevent mold.
- 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 after 7 minutes you 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.
My Quasimodo loaf:
I made two loaves this week because my Monday loaf turned out so lopsided; which my kids and I have dubbed Quasimodo. The loaf started out fine, but because the weather has been cold I let the loaf rise on my stove-top (while the oven pre-heated to 425-degrees). Unfortunately, half the loaf was too close to the oven vent and the loaf rose unevenly. It didn’t look too bad, until the oven spring kicked in and ended up extremely lopsided (in person the loaf looked even more lopsided than the photo).
Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start time: 6:00 PM. Finish time: 7:30 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:
1/2 cup water (4 ounces)
1-1/4 cup milk (10 ounces)
2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
1 tablespoon granulated lecithin
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups bread flour (1-1/4 lb)
2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 to 3/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid; fruit fresh or other powdered Vitamin C. (Alternatively mix 1 teaspoon white vinegar)
- Adjust an oven rack to low-middle position. and pre-heat oven to 200-degrees, then immediately turn it off. You will use the residual heat of the oven to speed the first rise in a cool kitchen.
- Add water and milk to a Pyrex measuring cup (at least 2 cup capacity); heat in microwave for 1m until mixture reaches 105-degrees. Mix in yeast, sugar, granulated lecithin and olive oil; allow to hydrate for 5 minutes.
- While the yeast hydrates, add the dry ingredients to the bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.
- Turn on standing mixer to lowest speed and slowly add liquid; use a rubber spatula to scrape out anything left at the bottom of the 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. The dough will become smooth, add a little more flour or water if necessary.
- Spray bowl with non-spick cooking spray, put dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm, but turned off, oven for 20 to 30 minutes. The dough will double in size. (Never allow dough to rise into a turned on oven)
- Spray your loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a rectangle so that it corresponds to the length of your loaf pan. Spray top of dough with tap 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 10.
- 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 between 20 minutes to 30 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.
- Carefully remove plastic wrap, spray the loaf three times with tap water from a spray bottle, and place loaf pan in 425-degree oven. Set kitchen timer for 23 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 until the top crust reaches your desired color. Tent with aluminum foil to keep the loaf top from over browning; baking for remaining 8 to 10 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf will reads 205-degrees when the loaf is done. Carefully remove bread from pan, and allow to cool on a wire rack for 3 hour before slicing (ensure that loaf is no warmer than 80-degrees).